I first heard Henry Fraser speak at an event at London City Hall and I’ve never been more impressed or humbled by anyone in my life.
When Henry was 17, he dove into the sea on holiday. Instead of meeting water, Henry struck a sandbank and permanently damaged his spinal cord. He’s now paralysed from the shoulders down. You can read about what happened in Henry’s own words here. Since that day, Henry, who is now in his early 20s, has dedicated his time to raising money for several charities, including the UK Stem Cell Research Fund (UKSCF). UKSCF was set up in 2005 to speed up the progress of stem cell research and Henry now travels around the country giving motivational speeches, sharing the life-changing work of UKSCF.
I knew about Henry before I heard him speak, so his story – and UKSCF’s – is extra special to me. My dad’s best mate Mike is a close family friend of the Frasers, their boys all went to the same school. Mike, who flew out to see Henry in hospital after it happened, also helped set up a separate charity to ensure Henry has an independent future. My dad was so moved by Henry’s story that he asked him to speak at an event he was organising, and it was here that I finally met him too.
Henry doesn’t just speak passionately and fluently about the importance of research into spinal cord injuries, he is also a talented artist. He painted at school, and now continues to paint – using just his mouth. In fact, one of his paintings now hangs in my dad’s hall – it’s of Audrey Hepburn. Here’s a video he posted to Twitter recently showing how he paints.
I’ve never met anyone as remarkable, creative or as positive as Henry, which is why I suggested that MRM supports UKSCF as its charity of the year in 2016.
In response to our support, Lil Shortland, UKSCF’s founder, said:
‘We were incredibly fortunate to have been nominated as charity of the year 2016 by MRM. Having the chance to partner with a successful brand such as MRM enables us to not only raise more funds but also give us exposure to a wider network.
‘For the last 10 years the UKSCF has been supporting British science, medicine and development in stem cell research and has enabled British scientists to achieve some impressive and exciting results. To date, the Foundation has raised some £24m in donations and inward investment, but we still need to raise more to ensure that this research translates to new treatments that directly benefits patients.
‘Stem cell research and therapies hold enormous potential in improving medical treatments for those suffering from debilitating chronic diseases and disabilities, including MS, diabetes, heart disease and spinal cord injury. Having the support of organisations such as MRM is of critical importance for the UKSCF and our projects; we are looking forward to a long-standing relationship with the team.’
Want to get involved? Follow our Easter campaign Be a Good Egg. You can have fun and get the chance to donate to UKSCF too. To read more about the incredible work of the UKSCF, go here.