The Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund

Summer 2020 Newsletter

How things have changed since our Newsletter last December. We were all oblivious to what was going to hit us. Hopefully, none of you, your families or friends have suffered with this coronavirus- Covid 19.

Once again, many thanks to all of you for your generous donations, without which we couldn’t carry out such important research. We can’t deny that like all Charities, donations have slowed down significantly and it’s unlikely to get better in the short term.

As we’ve said before, research is expensive. The annual cost of labour, consumables and facilities for a small research team can exceed £100,000. Donations, however small, are always welcome, are appreciated and will always be acknowledged. We don’t bombard donors with expensive mailings or with emails, which is evidenced by this Newsletter! We receive no Government support, except for Gift Aid. Remember also, that the Trustees aren’t remunerated and don’t claim expenses, which has enabled us over the past five years, to spend over 90% of our income on research.

Although there’s been no physical fundraising activities recently, our regular donors have supported us admirably. Many thanks to the individuals, Charitable Trusts, Freemasons’ Lodges and other organisations who have remembered us. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. And until we find a cure, it’s important to remember the symptoms of this awful illness;

Early diagnosis could make all the difference. It’s difficult to generalise, but if you or anyone you know has any of these – see a doctor quickly;

  • Yellow skin or eyes and/or itchy skin. This is “jaundice”.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Tummy pain, especially at the top of the abdomen, which may radiate to the back, or unexplained mid-back pain.
  • Bowel changes such as oily, floating faeces (stools).

And remember – pancreatic cancer doesn’t discriminate by gender or age.

Everyone’s probably found a multitude of things to do during the lockdown- things we’ve all been putting off. Ralph Bates’ widow, Virginia, is no exception and it prompted her to write a few words;

Dear Ralph, What would you be doing in these challenging times? Making the most of lockdown and probably writing a sit-com.. definitely Zooming a one man show from the attic…digging up the lawn and planting vegetables …even learning a language or two? I do know you’d love being at home. No more crack-of-dawn filming or touring and I’d be let off the hook from hearing your lines!

I’ve been sorting through “stuff” and came across a box marked “Palladium”. Looking back, it was pretty ambitious having a charity gala at The London Palladium. But thanks to our incredible family, friends, actors, the cast of Dear John, The Theatre of Comedy, musicians, singers, dancers and great support from the Trustees, we had a fantastic show. As a result, The Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund was established and a team of researchers set to work at St George’s Medical School.

The next box I found was marked “The Shaftesbury”, bursting with papers and pictures. We did a Poldark themed show including performances by the cast. Much of the audience came in costume led by the Poldark Society. We had over 100 people performing, and backstage was pretty chaotic. Of course, the show was terrific!

I’m still so grateful to all the people who were involved, sadly some no longer with us, but without whose help, we would never have got off the ground the way we did.

It’s a very unsettling time now for each and every one of us and keeping our research team going at St George’s will be harder than ever. Androulla and her team will be back in the lab soon to continue the vital work into finding a cure for the terrible cancer that took you away ……

Yours ever,


Virginia mentioned the two shows which were organised to help launch our Fund. She still has copies of the programs for the shows, signed by Sir Peter Blake, who designed the cover. If anyone would like a copy, it’s yours for a £5 donation and postage is free. A bargain! If you’re interested, let us know- contact details are on the last page.

At St George’s, our research came to a grinding halt in mid-March in common with everything else, but thankfully, plans are being finalised to allow the various research teams to get back to their laboratories. The only teams allowed to work at St George’s at present are those working on Covid 19 research, which is understandable and accepted. Nonetheless, what could be done by the team members at home, has been done, so that everything is ready for them to get going once the green light is given.

We mentioned in December 2018, that due to financial constraints, we had to suspend funding for research led by Prof. Gus Dalgleish at St. George’s. The research, which we’d funded for some 25 years, concentrated on combinations of drugs to fight pancreatic cancer and on getting those combinations into the right dosage and order of application. It’s pleasing to hear that an article on the result of this research has been accepted for publication in the magazine “Clinical and Translational Oncology”, which is an indication of the importance with which the results are viewed. This is a major step forward. Congratulations to the dedicated research team!

The research we have part funded at Imperial College into identifying indicators in blood and other bodily fluids which could highlight the existence of pancreatic cancer, was also halted due to the pandemic. More about this research next time.

Please stay safe and once again, many thanks for your support.

The Trustees.
July 2020

Making a donation.
You can make a donation;
Directly to the Administration address shown below.

By direct transfer to our bank account at:
Sort code; 40-26-07. Account number; 81635190.

Please quote your name as the reference.

By donating online by credit or debit card with either;
Justgiving at or Virgin Money Giving at

They reclaim Gift Aid for us where applicable.

Leaving a Legacy in your Will. If you want to know more about leaving a legacy, please visit our web site at
Gift Aid. If you pay UK tax, we can claim 25p from HMRC for every £1 you donate. You can download a Gift Aid declaration from our web site, but no need to do this if you donate through one of the websites named above. They take care of Gift Aid. You must be a UK taxpayer and if you pay less Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all your donations in a tax year (April 6 to April 5), it’s your responsibility to pay any difference.

Patron: Sir Peter Blake CBE, RDI, RA
Trustees: Virginia Bates,
Dr John Glees MD, FRCR, DMRT
Sharon Sullivan
Michael Bridge FCA
Nigel Baly BSC, MRICS
Les Biggs ACIS (Secretary).
Registered Charity No. 1007819.
Admin address; 317 Old Bedford Road, Luton, LU2 7BL.
Telephone; 01582 576100 or 07785 281901.

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