History of ELF

In the 1970′s Isobel Mitchell developed Leukaemia and was treated at King’s College Hospital in London. The treatment was successful and Isobel survived the disease for about 14 years. Her husband Derek, who was the landlord of ‘The Change of Horses, a local pub in the London Borough of Bromley, was so impressed with the way his wife had been treated,that he decided to raise money to help King’s Haematology Department. This was the beginning of the Elimination of Leukaemia Fund. Initially the Charity operated from Derek’s public house under his chairmanship and raised money locally.

By 1981 its fundraising had been so successful that it was decided to register the Charity with the Charity Commission. The Charity continued to primarily support King’s but the Charity’s Trust Deed permitted it to make grants elsewhere in the UK and small grants for equipment were made to hospitals in Birmingham and Nottingham.


ELF and Kings College Hospital

ELF is delighted to play such a big part in the delivery of Haematology services at King’s College Hospital in London and Kent.

Since 1977, ELF has supported the Haematology Department at King’s College Hospital. ELF’s constant help has made it possible for the department to become one of the best, if not the best in the UK.  King’s has recently decided to invest in a world beating Institute of Haematology and ELF plans to support them every step of the way.

Professor Ghulam Mufti, Head of the department of Haematology at King’s College Hospital: “On behalf of KCHFT/KCL, department of haematological medicine and all our parties, I would like to convey a personal debt of enormous gratitude for the untiring commitment of all the Trustees and supporters of ELF in order to rid the society of the ills of blood cancers. Elf’s contribution in this regard is exemplary, indeed without your support and trust in us there would not have been a department of Haematological Medicine at King’s.

The confidence of King’s Health Partners in our subjects is almost exclusively down to the vision of your charity, that has constantly been a friend and supporter of research, clinical facilities and total patient care. This led to our global research and clinical strength”.


So how did it all begin?


In the early days money was raised mostly from local supporters and was used to purchase small items for the Haematology Unit at King’s. However, as the need for more money to support King’s grew, the Charity began to make appeals to charitable trusts, foundations and corporate donors nationwide. The result of this increased level of fundraising was that in November 1988 the Charity was in a position to make its first significant grant to King’s enabling the Unit to establish the Isobel Mitchell DNA laboratory. Although the grant was modest by today’s standards, it enabled the Haematology Unit to attract funds from other donors.

In 1992 bone marrow transplants at King’s were limited by the absence of dedicated transplant facilities and the Hospital was considering removing all dedicated Leukaemia beds. As a result of the intervention of the Charity and lobbying by Derek Mitchell, a Leukaemia Treatment Suite with nursing support was established with the help of ELF funding. This step laid the basis for the superb department which exists today at King’s. A number of ELF supported projects at King’s followed, including funding for the Day Treatment Centre, which made treating patients in corridors a thing of the past.

Another step forward occurred in 1994 when the Charity was asked by a group of patients’ relatives, to help set up a Patients Support Group at Kings. The trustees agreed to fund a part time Counsellor for a period of two years. This funding enabled the NHS to appreciate the need and assume responsibility for funding such a post – now an essential part of the services that King’s provides.

ELF becomes a National Charity!

Once money began to be raised nationally, the trustees felt that the Charity’s powers, under its existing Trust Deed, to support work at centres other than King’s needed to be amended, which was done in August 1997. Following this decision, the first research grants outside King’s were approved. These included a grant to investigate candida at the Withington Hospital, Manchester, and a grant to developan interactive CD ROM on Leukaemia at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich.

Other grants followed to places as diverse as Belfast, Dorchester, Leicester, Oxford and Norwich. A further development in the Charity’s charitable giving was taken in 1997, with the introduction of the Travel and Training Fellowship scheme aimed at clinicians, nurses, clinical researchers and related health professionals. Since then ,these fellowships have been awarded to enable these professionals to expand their knowledge by attending conferences, workshops, short courses and short duration visits to centres of excellence and expertise. In 1999, in recognition that fundraising was now nationally based, particularly through payroll giving, it was decided to establish a formal 80/20 split between funding for local projects and the funding of national projects. It was also decided to make another change in the Charity’s charitable giving policy. Since the Charity’s inception, only work directed at adult blood cancers was funded. However,recognizing that blood cancers affected all ages, it was decided the Charity should support work across the whole age spectrum. As a result the first grant directed at young people was awarded in 2007 to the Institute of Child Health/Great Ormond Street Hospital.

By 2008, to reflect the change in emphasis towards patient centred work, the Charity awarded grants to help establish two new Clinical Nurse Specialist posts, one at King’s and one at Guy’s Hospital, London. This type of funding enabled the NHS to appreciate the need, and after two years assume responsibility for funding such posts. Over the years the Charity has adapted to changing circumstances in the treatment of blood cancers and to the changing nature of the fundraising environment. One thing that has not changed has been our aim to keep the operating costs of the Charity as low as possible so that as much as possible of every £1 donated goes towards advancing the cure and treatment of blood cancers. This aim, and the changes that have been made have ensured that the Charity has remained financially strong.With the Charity having a patient centred focus for its charitable giving, ELF has continued to support the type of work that its founder, Derek Mitchell, and his co-founders set out to do and to uphold the vision they envisaged when the Charity was set up in 1977.