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Cancer Research UK Reveals 2012’S Greatest Legacies

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by Cancer Research UK | News

27 December 2012

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The Olympic and Paralympic Games combined are expected to leave the most significant legacy of 2012, according to a survey by Cancer Research UK.*

Almost three-fifths of people (58 per cent) put The Games at the top of their list (46 per cent chose The Olympic Games, and 12 per cent chose The Paralympic Games), whilst the national cheer of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations seems to have been overshadowed with just nine per cent thinking this would be most likely to leave a long-term effect on society.

People’s choices also weren’t entirely positive with one in six (16 per cent) saying that the Euro-zone crisis would leave the most significant legacy from 2012.

  • 58 per cent of UK adults feel that the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games combined will leave the most significant legacy of 2012 for the UK
  • 60 per cent of UK adults think, overall, the significant UK events from 2012 will leave a positive legacy
  • 41 per cent of UK adults feel optimistic about what their life will be like in 2013
  • 66 per cent of people want to be remembered for their honesty and kindness, compared with only 8 per cent for being rich or successful and 5 per cent for being good looking

The online survey of 2,098 UK adults was carried out by YouGov for Cancer Research UK’s campaign to raise awareness about the importance of legacies or gifts in Wills, which fund over a third of the charity’s life-saving work.

Caroline Kent, director of Legacies at Cancer Research UK, said: “2012 has been a fantastic year with so many exciting events taking place, all of which have sparked a great debate about which will leave the most lasting legacy. We wanted to make the most of this opportunity while legacies are at the forefront of people’s minds to raise awareness of the huge impact leaving your own legacy to charity can make.

“Legacies left to us at Cancer Research UK have been crucial to achieving the progress we’ve made, with survival rates doubling over the last 40 years. We rely on people’s generosity, with gifts in Wills making a significant contribution to our work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer to help bring forward the day when all types of cancer are cured.”

When people were asked what they would most like to have done and be remembered for, winning gold at the Olympics came out on top with a quarter (26 per cent) of the vote. What’s more, the importance of scientific research resonated with the public with 16 per cent saying they would have liked to have been responsible for catching a first glimpse of the Higgs Boson particle – possibly one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of all time. However, very few wanted to be named in the history books for their daredevil antics. Only two per cent said they would have liked to make their name breaking the sound barrier without machine assistance as Felix Baumgartner did when he leapt from space in October.

The study also asked respondents how positive they felt about the events of 2012. Despite the banking crisis, phone hacking scandal and flooding devastating the homes of many across the UK, this survey suggests that the national pride inspired by the Olympic legacy has helped positivity prevail across the nation as the year draws to a close. Three in five (60 per cent) say they think that overall 2012 will leave a positive legacy and around four in 10 (41 per cent) feel optimistic about what their lives will be like in 2013.

When asked to choose from a list of traits to be remembered for, nearly two thirds of people (66 per cent) chose honesty and kindness, compared with just eight per cent for being successful or rich. Faithfulness and loyalty (45 per cent), and being a good parent (44 per cent) were also popular choices while people were less likely to want to be remembered for being clever (16 per cent) or good looking (five per cent).

There was a startling difference between how the older and younger generations would like to be remembered. Of those aged 18-24, more than four in 10 (43 per cent) wanted to be remembered for being clever compared to less than one in 10 (8 per cent) of the 55s and over. What’s more, 14 per cent of those aged 18-24 wanted to be remembered for being good looking whereas amongst the 55s and over this had dropped to only one per cent. Interestingly, the 55s and over were also much less likely to want to be remembered for making a difference to society (17 per cent) compared to those aged 18-24 (41 per cent).

Kent added: “It’s clear from the results of this survey that besides the differences shown between generations in how they would wish to be remembered, most people want to be remembered for being honest and kind.  We would like to encourage everyone to think about what their own legacy could be. A gift in your Will to help us beat cancer is one way of creating a lasting legacy today which will benefit millions in years to come. By remembering Cancer Research UK in your Will you can be part of the collective force leading pioneering research to save more lives by preventing, controlling and curing cancer.”

Find out more information about leaving a legacy to Cancer Research UK at


For media enquiries contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8315 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.