The charity was founded in 1966 following the untimely death at 52, from cancer, of Richard Dimbleby, one of Britain’s best loved broadcasters.
Richard contracted cancer at a time when its mere mention was a taboo. His decision to go public did a huge amount to challenge and overcome that taboo. Richard’s early death shocked the nation. They wanted to mark their respect in some way, so Richard’s widow, Dilys, suggested they should send donations with which to set up a charity to support people with cancer. The response was huge, and thus the Richard Dimbleby Cancer Fund was established. In 2005 the charity adopted the working name Dimbleby Cancer Care and the work at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London continues under this name today.
One of the charity’s first acts was to endow a chair in cancer research at King’s College London. the current incumbent, Professor Tony Ng, leads a research team which is one of only a few in the world which is using advanced tissue imaging techniques to develop methods of pinpointing the most effective drug treatments for each individual cancer patient.
However, the main focus of The Richard Dimbleby Cancer Fund is the care and support needs of people with cancer, and those of their families and carers. Over decades it has worked closely with staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals in London and through that work has evolved the Dimbleby Cancer Care information and support services. These offer practical and psychological support as well as complementary therapies with centres at Guy’s Cancer Centre and the Dimbleby Macmillan Support Centre at Queen Mary’s Sidcup.
In the same vein, since 2005, the Dimbleby Cancer Care Research Fund has provided up to £500,000 a year for national research into the care needs of cancer patients and their families, and how best these needs can be met.
From 2012 to 2019, the charity established a series of successful fundraising events including The World’s Greatest Quiz, an annual Carol Services in Bermondsey, and a 50km overnight walking challenge called Walk50 to support the work of Dimbleby Cancer Care at Guy’s Cancer.
Alongside this, in 2018 the charity launched the online directory of cancer care services: Cancer Care Map. The directory is the first of its kind bringing together support organisations from across the country. It is the UK’s only fully independent, comprehensive and free to use service enabling anyone affected by cancer to find out what is available to them in terms of care and support.
Following an Endowment of £2million to Guy’s Cancer Centre in 2013, in 2019 the charity made a further Major Gift to the Trust including the transfer of the Dimbleby Cancer Care name and fundraising operation to Guy’s and St Thomas’.
Jonathan Dimbleby remains involved in the continuing work of Dimbleby Cancer Care at Guy’s Cancer, meanwhile the focus of The Richard Dimbleby Cancer Fund is now the development and growth of Cancer Care Map, working closely with all the other major UK cancer charities and NHS England.