The Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund

December 2020 Newsletter

This year is undoubtedly a year to forget. None of us would have believed a year ago what was going to happen. Hopefully, you, your families and friends are well and have not suffered from this terrible Virus- Covid 19.

Once again, thanks from all the Trustees for your support. We couldn’t carry out suchimportant research without your donations. During this pandemic, donations have slowed down significantly for all Charities and we’re no exception. It’s unlikely to improve soon.

At St. George’s University of London, research work came to a halt mid-March, except for corona virus research. Our team members did what they could at home – there’s always a lot of data to analyse. Mini projects were able to be held during November and here are six students working on cell drug treatments. Leader Dr. Androulla Elia (taking the selfie!) says “It’s been difficult, but we are trying… as you can see social distancing is a little tight, but it’s all part of practical teaching”.

Androulla is now actively seeking a research assistant and hopefully someone will be on board by March next year, assuming restrictions do not prevent it.

We know we keep on about it, but early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer could make all the difference. A copy of our leaflet about pancreatic cancer is included with this Newsletter, as it’s important to continue to emphasis the common symptoms and also how much a healthy body needs a healthy pancreas. If you would like copies, just let us know.

In our summer Newsletter, we featured a “letter” to Ralph from Virginia. This prompted John Glees, a founder Trustee and an eminent consultant oncologist, to pen a few words;

Dear Ralph,

During this very unsettling time due to the coronavirus, I’ve had a chance to reminisce and thought I’d put pen to paper. I’ll never forget an exciting trip to see some amazing equipment………..

It’s March 11th, 1998 and Virginia and I are off to Paris, on behalf of the Research Fund, to view a new ultrasound machine. We’d been told that with this new use of ultrasound called “Endoscopic Ultrasound”, that early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is possible. We’d been invited by one of London‘s top pancreatic cancer surgeons, Mr Satvinder Mudan FRCS, to view a procedure. He’s already in Paris learning how to use this exciting new Ultrasound equipment and to interpret the resulting scans.

We travelled by Eurostar train to Paris on this new way of “crossing” the

channel. What excitement! We arrived at the Clinique de Trocadero. The photo on the left shows that to our right a paramedic is taking a patient from an ambulance. Unknown to us, he was to be our patient! We had a friendly chat with him on our way into the Clinic and to our surprise, every corridor and turn we took, so did his stretcher! You can imagine this gentleman’s surprise when he saw us again all “gowned up” in white in the procedure room. The patient told us before being given his general anaesthetic, that it gave him confidence to see “mes Amis” (“my friends”) in the room with him!

With great fascination, we watched the procedure. Luckily, his very small pancreatic cancer was diagnosed at an early stage, enabling curative surgery to be performed. We were both extremely impressed with the equipment. I remember Virginia saying “we absolutely need this machine in London, I know Ralph would approve”, and so it was.

The Fund purchased the UK’s first ever Endoscopic Ultrasound machine, which was installed at St George’s Hospital with a suitably inscribed plaque and a presentation ceremony. It’s still in use today, teaching UK specialists the art of diagnosing pancreatic cancer early. In 2007 the Fund purchased a second Endoscopic Ultrasound machine for St George’s. At that time, it was still only number 3 in the UK.

Dear Ralph, I wish so much that this equipment had been here to help you but sadly, it came many years too late. But thanks to your dear Virgina in setting up the Research Fund, so many others are now able to benefit from this ingenious machine.

John Glees.


Traditional fundraising hasn’t been possible over the past few months because of the various lockdowns and restrictions. One of our longer-term supporters – Jane- and her partner- Colin- came up with a novel idea and decided to produce some music videos and they’ve posted them on Facebook. The links to the videos, which are all Jane and Colin’s own work, can be found on our web site

They also have a Justgiving page for donations; Sincere thanks to Colin and Jane, who worked hard producing the videos.

For many years at Christmas, Virginia with some friends and colleagues held carol singing sessions in support of our Fund. The photo shows Virginia in 1993- seated on the right at the front at one of those sessions. The Fund was only a year or so old at that time, so every penny counted! Over the last couple of years, Virginia has been unable to arrange the carol singing and this year, the pandemic restrictions have curtailed her dulcet tones!

She says that she misses the camaraderie but not the cold, frosty nights! That’s actor Jeremy Young (Z Cars, Dr Who, Coronation Street, The Bill and many more) on the left. He was a valued and regular supporter of Virginia’s carol singing sessions and had a fantastic singing voice!

We promise this isn’t an advert for Amazon! There’s no doubt that many people have purchased from the Amazon web site over the past year or so. In addition to their main site, Amazon has a site called “AmazonSmile”, which offers

the same products as their main site.  So, what’s the difference? Amazon pays a donation to the purchaser’s selected Charity on many of the products they sell on the AmazonSmile site.   It may not be much, but it all adds up and it costs nothing extra.  Our Fund is registered with AmazonSmile and can be selected as your chosen Charity on the checkout page of the website – if you decide to choose us!  Hopefully, you will!

The festive season is going to be strange for all of us this year.   Fingers crossed things get better in the New Year and that the vaccine does its job. Please stay safe and once again, many thanks for your support.

The Trustees. December 2020

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