Grand National winning jockey, Bob Champion MBE, officially opened the new £19m Bob Champion Research and Education Building on the Norwich Research Park this week. The opening, hosted by UEA Vice-Chancellor Professor David Richardson, was attended by over 120 sponsors and donors who supported the project.
Based on the Norwich Research Park, and operated by the University of East Anglia (UEA) in partnership with the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, the centre will provide state-of-the-art laboratories for researchers to explore new treatments for diseases from prostate cancer and antibiotic resistance to musculo-skeletal and gastrointestinal diseases.
The Bob Champion Cancer Trust, set up in in 1983 after the Grand National-winning jockey beat cancer, donated £750,000 to the project helping to take charitable funds raised by a UEA funding campaign over two years to more than £2.2m.
In his address at the opening event, the former jockey spoke about his own experience of cancer and how it impacted on his career and determination to succeed. He spoke of his life during and immediately after cancer, how it affected his outlook and shared some statistics about the progression that treatment of the disease has seen. When Bob was diagnosed with cancer, his chances of survival were 50%. He had to undergo ruthless chemotherapy, during which he had periods when he almost gave up fighting the disease. His niece and nephew gave him the strength to fight on and two years after diagnosis, in 1981, he won the Grand National on Aldaniti.
Bob Champion said: “We’re very excited by the prospect of the work that will be carried out within the ‘Bob Champion Research & Education Building. The Trust is looking forward to working with UEA and in particular Professor Colin Cooper and his team – this is a great step forward for our research programmes.”
Other major funders of the build include The Wolfson Foundation which contributed £500,000 to help create The Wolfson Research Wing where UEA medical research scientists will work within the building and Norfolk & Waveney cancer charity, Big C which gave £250,000 and will see the atrium named ‘The Big C Atrium’ in thanks.
Action Arthritis Norwich Town Close Estate Charity and the R C Snelling Charitable Trust all pledged £100,000 each. The lecture theatre will bear the name ‘The Roy Snelling lecture theatre’ whilst Action Arthritis and Norwich Town Close Estate will be recognised in the Norfolk Bone and Joint Centre for their significant contributions.
Within the building, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital clinicians will work alongside UEA research including Professor Colin Cooper's team working on prostate cancer and Professor Bill Fraser who will lead the Norfolk Bone and Joint Centre.
Leading teaching facilities, including a simulated hospital environment, will ensure medical students benefit academically and clinically from the mix of expertise based in the facility. To find our more about the facility and see inside, watch MustardTV's video here WATCH: New medical research and education building video.
UEA's fundraising campaign, The Difference Campaign, has raised over £2.2m so far for this project and plans to continue this work. As the new facility is finalised, fundraising efforts will focus on ensuring our research teams continue to grow and strengthen to meet the challenges presented by these debilitating diseases.
Find out more about supporting Prostate Cancer Research at UEA.