Students Help Anthony Nolan celebrate 20 years of lifesaving



Volunteers from University of Plymouth will be celebrating 20 years of students saving lives with blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan this academic year – and the remarkable 3431 potential stem cell donors recruited to the UK stem cell register.


‘Marrow’ is the name for Anthony Nolan’s student volunteer network. Plymouth Marrow at University of Plymouth will hold a series of fundraising and donor recruitment events at their university as part of a year-long celebration to raise awareness of the need for more stem cell donors.


Over the last 9 years the Plymouth Marrow has held over 85 events to raise awareness of the work that Anthony Nolan does to support families and patients with blood cancer. Over 10 students recruited through these Marrow events have gone on to donate stem cells to patients while, on average, people have around a 1 in 800 chance of being asked to donate stem cells or bone marrow in the next five years.


Marrow students also aim to recruit potential donors from a range of backgrounds to help provide hope to for patients from minority and ethnic backgrounds. Patients from black, Asian or other minority ethnic backgrounds have just a 20% chance of finding the best possible matching stem cell donor compared to 69% of patients from north European backgrounds. 


Jordan Hargreaves a second-year medical student and president of Plymouth Marrow said, “This is my second year of volunteering with Marrow and I am proud of the work that Anthony Nolan does with universities across the UK. Knowing that the work, we students do can help save someone’s life is incredible, and I don’t think saving lives can be any more fun than during the fantastic events we host throughout the year.”


“This year is the 20th year of Marrow, and to celebrate, my team and I plan to recruit more potential lifesavers than ever before! Thank you already to the 105 of you who signed up in September alone, and a big thanks to everyone who’s already signed up in previous years.”


“We will be running a spooky swab clinic on Halloween at our Student Union on the 31st of October! We also have Hero Week in November where we will be hosting recruitment events in our Student Union and at our local Pure Gym too! It couldn’t be easier!”


Marrow groups operate in over 55 UK universities, and have recruited more than 130,000 people to the Anthony Nolan register since 1998.


Charlotte Cunliffe, Marrow Programme Lead, said, ‘This year, our wonderful Marrow community is proud to be celebrating 20 years of saving lives. The impressive and often creative efforts of our volunteers from Plymouth Marrow in recruiting donors has helped Anthony Nolan to recruit more than 130,000 potential donors. Our work in universities is vital, because it allows us to reach a young and diverse group of people. ‘We are excited about the next 20 years and are looking forward to spreading the word about the lifesaving potential of students on campuses across Plymouth.’


Marrow began in 1998 when James Kustow, a student at The University of Nottingham, was having dinner with some friends when he received a call from his mother. A childhood friend of his, Karen, had been diagnosed with leukaemia and needed a bone marrow transplant to survive.


Banding together with his friends, James organised a hugely successful recruitment event on campus to try and get more people to join the Anthony Nolan register. James and his fellow volunteers decided to put together a team to run regular events and raise awareness for years to come. They called it Marrow.


Sadly, Karen’s leukaemia came back after her transplant and she died four months later – but her legacy lives on in the Marrow groups which were set up to help her and many more people like her. Marrow has gone from strength to strength; more than 1,500 people recruited by our student volunteers have gone on to donate their stem cells to patients in need. To this day Marrow continue work hard to save the lives of people with blood cancer.


You can find out more about Marrow Groups at or Facebook / Twitter. If you are 16-30 and in good health you can register online at