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Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust appoints new Chair of Trustees

The Board of Trustees at Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT) has appointed a new Chair to lead the charity’s governance as it embarks on an exciting next chapter of fundraising and support for Cambridge University Hospitals.

Charles Packshaw

Charles Packshaw joined the Board of Trustees on 1 September, bringing with him experience as the Chair of Trustees at Prostate Cancer UK, and Framlingham College, in Suffolk. He will start his new post on 1 November, replacing the current Acting Chair of Trustees, Dr Mike Knapton.

Mr Packshaw said: “It was an honour to join the ACT Board of Trustees, and an even greater honour to be appointed Chair of Trustees. I am passionate about health, so I am delighted to be involved with a charity that makes such an enormous difference to the patients and staff of Addenbrooke’s and The Rosie.”

ACT Chief Executive, Shelly Thake, said: “I am delighted that Charles has agreed to accept the post of Chair, I am sure he will have a massive impact on the already excellent support and guidance provided by our Board of Trustees, and I look forward to working with Charles over the coming weeks, months, and years.

“I would also like to pay tribute to Dr Mike Knapton who stepped in as Acting Chair of Trustees on 1 April, following the departure of our former Chair, Dr Ros Smith. Mike’s leadership over the last six months has been invaluable, and very much appreciated.”

In addition to his past experience as a trustee, Charles holds two non-executive director posts and has more than 30 years’ experience as a banker at HSBC and at Lazard. Married with three children, the new Chair of Trustees is also a keen cyclist, who earlier this year took on the Ride London 100 challenge for the seventh time. His other interests include tennis and football.

10 ways you can help to Buy Addenbrooke’s a Robot

3 August 2022

Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust launched its Surgical Robot Appeal back in April 2021. We have now almost reached our £1.5m target with just £151,950 to go! We are calling all our supporters to please help us over the finish line. What could YOU do to support your hospital?

How you can help
You don’t have to be a marathon runner or a member of the Tour de France cycling team to join in with our robot fundraising. We’ve had people taking on all sorts of challenges for us including holding toy sales, learning Welsh for 1000 hours, and even selling cakes out of a canoe to raise funds! What could YOU do?

Here are 10 fundraising ideas:

  1. Host a dinner party. This could be as simple or elaborate as you like. Invite your friends over for a home-cooked meal. Ask guests to donate what they’d spend on eating out to the Robot Appeal.
  2. Staying on the foodie theme, get a group of friends together and create your own version of Come Dine With Me. Take it in turns to create your best dishes, then rate each other’s meals and compete for the title of ‘host with the most.’
  3. Donate your birthday. Instead of asking for gifts, ask your friends and family to give a donation instead. Facebook makes it super easy for you to use your birthday to raise money for a cause that’s important to you.
  4. Put your creativity to good use and get crafty. If you’re great at creating all things homemade and can knit, sew, paint, build or make jam, why not sell your wares?
  5. If music’s more your thing and you’re feeling ambitious, you could organise a mini-concert, recital or jamming session and sell tickets to your music-loving friends.
  6. Hold a dress down day at work in return for a donation, or why not give Metal Mickey a run for his money and dress up as a robot?
  7. A quiz is always good fun. You could hold a quotes quiz by collecting lots of movie quotes and song lyrics – then test your workmates. For a price, of course. And perhaps a prize.
  8. Show off your best bakes. Cake sales always go down well in the workplace, at school and, well anywhere really.
  9. Guess the number of sweets in a jar, peas in a bag, footballs in a car etc. The list is endless!
  10. Give a good old-fashioned donation at 

Ways some of our fundraisers have risen to the challenge

1000 challengers:

  • It costs about £1,000 per patient to provide robot-assisted surgery and we launched our 1000 challenge to see how creative our supporters could get! We were delighted to receive details of many different types of challenges from 82-year-old Dot who aimed to walk 10,000 steps a day and ended up averaging 14,000 steps a day, to Jan who knitted and crafted 1000 wonderful creations in 1000 minutes and spent 1000 minutes learning Welsh, in honour of her Welsh transplant donor.
  • Personal Trainer Tariq Mansell challenged himself to 1000 minutes of exercise in his gym after a close friend needed brain surgery to remove a tumour. He raised £3,460 for the surgical robot.

Sporting challenges:

  • Eight-year-old Isla who has a rare genetic condition embarked on an epic 46-mile trike challenge to raise money for Addenbrooke’s. Inspired by learning about Egypt at school, she travelled the equivalent 46 miles it would take to trike through the city of Cairo to the pyramids of Giza, raising more than an incredible £10,000 in the process.
  • At the beginning of lockdown, football fan Imogen (then aged 10) set the challenge of completing 7.1 million keepie uppies, one for every key worker in the country. She smashed her target and ended up raising an incredible £20,000 for several charities including ACT.
  • CUH surgeon Atanu Pal ran the virtual London Marathon spelling out the word ‘Robot’ with his route.
  • During Social Action Week from 6 – 10 June, students from Hills Road Sixth Form College took on several challenges to raise funds for the hospital. One group held a bake sale out of a canoe! They canoed about eight miles all the way from Stourbridge common to Grantchester, selling their homemade baked goods along the way.

If you would like to fundraise to help us reach our Robot Appeal target, please email to let us know your plans. You can find out more or donate at 

Hospital’s green bus service is just the ticket for patients and planet

Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) has launched an environmentally friendly patient courtesy bus service, thanks to a team effort by its charity, Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT) and a well-known patient governor.

CUH, ACT and Ruth Greene have teamed up to provide two fully electric buses that run from a new seated shelter at the hospital bus station near the Hills Road entrance, replacing the existing single diesel bus service.

The buses provide a cleaner, greener, more accessible, and more frequent service for passengers travelling around the site and once built, will stop at the new children’s and cancer hospitals and campus train station.

The electric buses are named the Green-e Get Around in tribute to Ruth who has provided funding for one of the buses. Ruth has always been a loyal and hard-working supporter of the Trust for many years, despite having cancer, and wanted to fund a patient courtesy bus to help patients get around the expanding campus more easily.

Ruth said, “Getting around the hospital can be a real challenge, especially for those with limited mobility like me. The new bus service helps overcome that challenge and the fact it has now been extended and has an additional stop at the main bus terminal, will be greatly welcomed by everyone.”

Ruth has been a patient governor since July 2016 and was recently re-elected for a third term. Ruth is also on the Cancer Patient Partnership Committee and the Patient Experience Committee as well as being involved with the design of the new Cancer Hospital. She supports various other committees, focus groups and events.

ACT chief executive, Shelly Thake, said: “We are delighted to be part of a team effort that has not only helped to provide a bus service that is even better for patients, visitors and staff, but is also kinder to the planet too.”

CUH chairman, Mike More added, “We want to thank Ruth and ACT for so generously joining us to improve a transport service that is so valued by so many and will go on to serve many more people in the future.

Anyone who wants to support Addenbrooke’s or The Rosie should visit

Robot Appeal to buy Addenbrooke’s a new surgical robot reaches £1.25 million mark

Nearly 200 people who attended the John Addenbrooke Lecture on 24 February heard the exciting news that more than £1.25 million has been raised and pledged towards the £1.5 million fundraising target to purchase a new surgical robot for Addenbrooke’s.

The annual event, hosted by Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT), heard from leading Addenbrooke’s surgeons Professor Grant Stewart and Mr Siong-Seng Liau, who shared their experiences of the benefits of robotic surgery and how it could transform care for thousands of patients. Click here to view a recording of the lecture.

Dr Ashley Shaw, Medical Director at Cambridge University Hospitals, also shared his expert perspective on how innovation, such as robotic surgery, will help our much-loved hospital recover at a critical time for the NHS.

The running total for the appeal currently stands at £1.25 million. ACT CEO Shelly Thake and CUH Medical Ashley Shaw made an impassioned appeal on the night for those attending to help close that gap as quickly as possible. Nearly £10,000 was raised on the evening for the robot from attendees.

The charity is now calling on the public to help them close the gap and raise the remaining £250,000 as soon as possible.

Shelly Thake said: “We hope the event shone a light on the need for another surgical robot and reinforced our call to the wider public to help us smash our target very soon.

“We are so grateful to Grant, Siong and Ashley, along with many others, for giving their time and support to this appeal. It was a fantastic lecture evening – even though it had to be held virtually because of Covid considerations – and we have posted the video online for those who want to view it again or for the first time.

“It is incredible that we have raised such a substantial amount for this appeal in under a year. It highlights the strength of support for the NHS and Addenbrooke’s. It also shows that people understand why having an additional robot at Addenbrooke’s can make such a big difference.”

The evening’s events were introduced by Dame Mary Archer DBE by video link and Shelly Thake hosted the panel who were broadcast live from the John Addenbrooke Library at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.

See campaign updates and a video of the evening’s events at 
View Q and A’s from the event here.

As well as individual donations, fundraisers are contributing significant sums through events such as Step for Addenbrooke’s, the Cambridge Half Marathon and other ultra-challenge events over the coming months.

Shelly Thake added: “We have been bowled over by the support and donations for this Surgical Robot appeal. It gives us massive hope that people are willing to help Addenbrooke’s survive and thrive in a challenging climate. And it gives us strong optimism that our future campaigns for the Cambridge Cancer Hospital and the Cambridge Children’s Hospital will be equally well supported and funded.”

Click here to donate to our Robot Appeal

Did you know you can write or update a simple will for free though ACT’s Free Wills Service?

Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust has joined the National Free Wills Network, so we can help our supporters to write or update your will for free using local firms of solicitors.

ACT has launched this scheme to encourage people to leave gifts in wills to transform care for the future of our much-loved hospitals. That’s why you won’t have to pay – we are so grateful for gifts in wills – we will cover the cost of the will for you.

You are under no obligation to leave Addenbrooke’s a gift in your will, but we hope that after looking after loved ones, you will consider leaving a gift. In doing so, you will leave a lasting legacy that will transform care for future generations.

Bethan Rees, a Cambridge ACT supporter, heard about the Free Wills Service in 2021. Bethan said:

“This came at the perfect time as I really needed to update my will. I had been putting it off for a long time – It always seemed to stay on the ‘to-do’ list! I was referred to a solicitor near my home, and the process was really simple. All I really had to do was tell ACT I was interested, choose the solicitor and make the appointment. I’m so glad I finally got around to doing it. It has made me feel like I have ticked a very important job.

I’ve also left a small donation to Addenbrooke’s – they have done so much for me and my family, most recently helping me recover after a dreadful accident. The staff are fantastic and if this can help them in the future, it is a great way to just say thank you.”

Paul White, Head of Donor Care at ACT, said:

“Writing or indeed updating your will is important so that your loved ones know your wishes – but it’s so easy to put off. I’m so pleased that Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust is now able to offer this special service to our supporters who would like to leave a gift in their will to Addenbrooke’s.”

Find out more, call our Gifts in Wills team on 01223 217757 or email

ACT gift festive hampers to thank hospital staff

ACT is providing hundreds of goodie-filled hampers for all Addenbrooke’s staff again this year to thank the teams for their incredible dedication over the past 12 months and to spread some much-needed festive cheer.

Thank you to the Rapid Relief Team charity for their huge support spending hours packing hundreds of treats ready to be enjoyed.

Thanks also to all the companies and individuals who have donated to ACT including Studio 24, Redrow Homes, Vistry East Midlands, Ashtons Legal, Everything Answered, Stream Projects Ltd and Amazon as well as generous members of the public.

ACT CEO, Shelly Thake, said: “These hampers are just one way of saying thank you to staff at Christmas for all their amazing efforts throughout the year. Our supporters – corporate and individual – have rallied round to make this happen again this year as their way of showing their gratitude for all your hard work and dedication to patients and support for each other at this critical time.”

If you or your company would like to support Addenbrooke’s, visit our website to find out ways in which you can help.

Addenbrooke’s Robot Appeal reaches first major milestone

Mr Simon Harper, Consultant Hepatobiliary and Transplant Surgeon announces that ACT has reached its £250,000 milestone to buy a surgical robot for Addenbrooke’s

28 October 2021

A £1.5 million appeal run by Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT) to buy a surgical robot for Addenbrooke’s Hospital has passed the £250,000 milestone for donations and funds raised, following its launch earlier this year.

The fundraising campaign to buy the new surgical robot – that will mean quicker, less invasive surgery and faster healing and recovery times for patients – has inspired dozens of fundraisers to support in a unique fashion.

Many have taken part in the 1000 Challenge – asking if people can complete an activity a thousand times to raise £1,000 – along with a variety of other efforts to help the NHS including:

  • Running the London Marathon on 3 October
  • Learning Welsh for 1000 minutes
  • Learning mandolin for 1000 minutes
  • Penalty kick challenges
  • The Grantchester charity run
  • Toy sales
  • Doing the Three Peaks Challenge
  • Walking for a thousand minutes (16 hours 40 minutes)
  • Organising a tractor run in support of the campaign
  • Walking up a flight of stairs ten times a day for 100 days.

ACT is now gearing up the next phase of its Robot Appeal and is asking the public to take part in some fundraising activity over the next few months to help the NHS at a critical time.

The charity is calling on its supporters and the public to come up with their suggestions to help raise funds or take part in the 1000 Challenge, or to donate, to help reach the £1.5 million target as quickly as possible.

Helping post-pandemic NHS recovery
Shelly Thake, Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust’s (ACT) CEO, said: “We want to say a massive thank you to all those who have supported our appeal so far. It has been a magnificent response that shows how the public want to help the NHS at this critical time.

“We hope we can once again call upon those who support the NHS and Addenbrooke’s to help us reach our Robot Appeal target. With the pressures caused by the pandemic, the hospital needs our help to get its surgical programme moving again and to deliver the quickest, safest surgery possible.

“Following the pandemic, people now more clearly grasp that hospital charities have a big impact in supporting innovation and research and staff wellbeing measures.

“The past 18 months has shown that the public want to help the NHS in the best way possible and by working with charities like ACT, they know that their efforts are delivering above and beyond what can be currently done. People are inspired by the NHS and the care they have received and want to give back where they can.”

About robotic surgery
The robot will enable surgeons and their teams to operate on more patients, from people with pancreatic cancer to gynaecology patients, enabling them to recuperate faster and get home to their families more quickly.

Robotic surgery is a form of keyhole surgery involving small incisions where the surgeon operates on the patient by controlling a computer-enhanced robot, mimicking the surgeon’s hands and wrist movements, and allowing absolute precision.

The large 3D view of the patient’s organs enables surgeons to perform many types of complex procedures with enhanced vision, greater precision, flexibility, and control than is possible with conventional techniques.

The benefits of robotic surgery for patients are immense and can change patients’ lives. It can take months to recover from traditional, ‘open’ surgery but incisions made using robotic surgery are much smaller, reducing the risk of complications and infection, minimising scarring, pain, and discomfort and helping patients recover and return home more quickly. Following robot-assisted surgery, patients can be discharged from hospital within a matter of days, not weeks.

However, Addenbrooke’s currently only has one robot which is dedicated to kidney, bladder, and prostate cancer patients. ACT’s new appeal will help fund another surgical robot, that could revolutionise patient care across six specialities in the hospital including urology, gynae-oncology, gynaecology, lower GI (gastrointestinal tract), ENT (ear, nose, and throat) and HPB (Hepato-Pancreatico-Biliary – diseases of the liver, pancreas and biliary tree) and improving outcomes for many more patients every year.

One specialty area that could benefit is head and neck surgery, which can be very invasive and where some tumours are difficult to reach. This can lead to scarring that can be very distressing for patients. A surgical robot can access the tumour through the mouth with precision meaning that patients regain the ability to swallow much more quickly, can eat and drink without help, and need less ongoing treatment. ACT’s campaign to buy a surgical robot could help ENT patients get back on their feet much sooner after an operation.

To find out more please visit

Byard Art host charity raffle in support of ACT’s surgical robot appeal

*Byard Art press release*

The prospect of having an operation can be worrying for many people but a surgical robot can help to make the thought of surgery easier for patients. It can take months to recover from traditional, ‘open’ surgery but incisions made using robotic surgery are much smaller, reducing the risk of complications and infection, minimising scarring, pain, and discomfort, and helping patients recover and return home more quickly.

Addenbrooke’s currently has one robot which is dedicated to kidney, bladder, and prostate cancer patients. Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust’s (ACT) new appeal will help fund another surgical robot, revolutionising patient care across an additional six specialities in the hospital.

Matt Brown has created three characterful robots for the raffle. One which comes with its own first aid kit, and another features an amazing vintage light for the first time. Matt is master creator of sculptures made from recycled metals and vintage pieces which will intrigue you!

To be in with the chance of winning one or all of these wonderful works and to support this amazing local campaign you can buy tickets online or come into the gallery to take a look and get your tickets.

1st Prize – Lampbot, RRP £600

2nd Prize – First Aid Bot, RRP £400

3rd Prize – Little Red 3, RRP £110

Tickets are £5 each

With such charming prizes and 100% of the proceeds going directly to the hospital, there’s no reason not to get involved!

The draw will be held on Saturday 13 November at Byard’s Christmas Cracker opening exhibition opening on Saturday 13 December.

To find out more about ACT’s Robot Appeal please visit

Biological ‘fingerprints’ of long COVID in blood could lead to diagnostic test, say Cambridge scientists

**University of Cambridge press release**

  • Discovery of cytokine in patients with long COVID could enable accurate test of infection
  • Second cytokine could help accurately identify individuals previously infected with coronavirus
  • Study will help researchers understand whether vaccine boosters are required

Markers in our blood – ‘fingerprints’ of infection – could help identify individuals who have been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, several months after infection even if the individual had only mild symptoms or showed no symptoms at all, say Cambridge researchers.

The team has received funding from the National Institute for Health Research to develop a test that could complement existing antibody tests. They also aim to use similar biological signatures to develop a test and monitor for long COVID.

While most people recover from COVID-19 in a matter of days or weeks, around one in ten people go on to develop symptoms that can last for several months. This can be the case irrespective of the severity of their COVID-19 – even individuals who were asymptomatic can experience so-called ‘long COVID’.

Diagnosing long COVID can be a challenge, however. A patient with asymptomatic or mild disease may not have taken a PCR test – the gold standard for diagnosing COVID-19 – at the time of infection and so has never had a confirmed diagnosis.  Even antibody tests – which look for immune cells produced in response to infection – are estimated to miss around 30% of cases, particularly among those who have had only mild disease and or beyond six months post-initial illness.

A team at the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has received £370,000 from the National Institute for Health Research to develop a COVID-19 diagnostic test that would complement existing antibody tests and a test that could objectively diagnose and monitor long COVID.

The research builds on a pilot project supported by the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust. The team has been recruiting patients from the Long COVID Clinic established in May 2020 at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, part of Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

During the pilot, the team recruited 85 patients to the Cambridge NIHR COVID BioResource, which collects blood samples from patients when they are first diagnosed and then at follow-up intervals over several months. They now hope to expand their cohort to 500 patients, recruited from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

In their initial findings, the team identified a biomarker – a biological fingerprint – in the blood of patients who had previously had COVID-19. This biomarker is a molecule known as a cytokine produced by T cells in response to infection. As with antibodies, this biomarker persists in the blood for a long time after infection. The team plans to publish their results shortly.

Dr Mark Wills from the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge, who co-leads the team, said: “We need a reliable and objective way of saying whether someone has had COVID-19. Antibodies are one sign we look for, but not everyone makes a very strong response and this can wane over time and become undetectable.

“We’ve identified a cytokine that is also produced in response to infection by T cells and is likely to be detectable for several months – and potentially years – following infection. We believe this will help us develop a much more reliable diagnostic for those individuals who did not get a diagnosis at the time of infection.”

By following patients for up to 18 months post-infection, the team hopes to address several questions, including whether immunity wanes over time. This will be an important part of helping understand whether people who have been vaccinated will need to receive boosters to keep them protected.

As part of their pilot study, the team also identified a particular biomarker found in patients with long COVID. Their work suggests these patients produce a second type of cytokine, which persists in patients with long COVID compared to those that recover quickly and might be one of the drivers behind the many symptoms that patients experience. This might therefore prove to be useful for diagnosing long COVID.

Dr Nyarie Sithole, also from the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge, who co-leads the team and helps to manage long COVID patients, said:  “Because we currently have no reliable way of diagnosing long COVID, the uncertainty can cause added stress to people who are experiencing potential symptoms. If we can say to them ‘yes, you have a biomarker and so you have long COVID’, we believe this will help allay some of their fears and anxieties.

“There is anecdotal evidence that patients see an improvement in symptoms of long COVID once they have been vaccinated – something that we have seen in a small number of patients in our clinic. Our study will allow us to see how this biomarker changes over a longer period of time in response to vaccination.”

At the moment, the team is using the tests for research purposes, but by increasing the size of their study cohort and carrying out further work, they hope to adapt and optimise the tests that can be scaled up and speeded up, able to be used by clinical diagnostic labs.

As well as developing a reliable test, the researchers hope their work will help provide an in-depth understanding of how the immune system responds to coronavirus infection – and why it triggers long COVID in some people.

Dr Sithole added: “One of the theories of what’s driving long COVID is that it’s a hyperactive immune response – in other words, the immune system switches on at the initial infection and for some reason never switches off or never goes back to the baseline. As we’ll be following our patients for many months post-infection, we hope to better understand whether this is indeed the case.”

In addition, having a reliable biomarker could help in the development of new treatments against COVID. Clinical trials require an objective measure of whether a drug is effective. Changes in – or the disappearance of – long-COVID-related cytokine biomarkers with corresponding symptom improvement in response to drug treatment would suggest that a treatment intervention is working.

Addenbrooke’s charity appoints new trustees to support ambitious fundraising plans

Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT), the fundraising charity for Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie hospitals, is pleased to announce the appointment of two new trustees: William Fox, Portfolio Director at wealth management service provider, Cazenove Capital, and James Stevens, CEO of Ely-based nutritional ingredients supplier, Cambridge Commodities.

Thanks to the immensely generous support of its donors, the charity helps the hospitals provide a level of patient care beyond that which can be delivered by NHS funding alone. Charitable donations fund high-tech equipment and innovations, specialist staff, extra patient comforts, and vital research to improve diagnostics and find potential cures, helping to save and improve lives locally, nationally and worldwide.

“I am delighted that William and James have agreed to join the Board of Trustees at ACT,” said Chairman, Dr Rosalind Smith. “Their appointments will be of great value to the charity as it embarks on ambitious fundraising plans to support the future of Cambridge University Hospitals and continues to make it even better for patients.”

William Fox sits on the Finance and General Purposes committee and the Investment Committee (IC), having been an external advisor to the IC for many years. He said: “I am delighted to be joining ACT as a trustee at this very exciting time for both the hospital and the charity. I very much look forward to working with my fellow trustees and the excellent staff at ACT to fulfil our charitable objectives over the years ahead.”

James Stevens who will bring his expertise to the fundraising Committee said: “I am honoured to be joining such a distinguished and notable charitable trust as ACT. From innovative new equipment to smaller touches that can make all the difference, ACT does it all. I will strive to further these important and life changing endeavours and prove myself worthy of such a tremendous opportunity to give back.”

To find out more about Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT) please call 01223 217757, email or visit

William Fox
After a spell in the army and at agricultural college, William joined Cazenove & Co in 1986 as a graduate trainee and became a partner in 2000. He continues to work for Cazenove Capital, the wealth management arm of Schroders, looking after private individuals and family trusts.

William sits on the F&GP committee and the Investment Committee, having been an external advisor to the IC for many years. He is married to Lucinda who is a retired nurse who trained in Cambridge. They have three children and now live in West Norfolk.

James Stevens
James Stevens is an entrepreneur and has forged a successful 25-year career in the health industry promoting wellbeing worldwide. He is the CEO and Founder of Cambridge Commodities and lives with his family in Cambridgeshire. A philanthropist at heart, James has taken on many challenges to raise money for charities including ACT which has been his company’s chosen charity for the last 4 years.