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Tania Bryer: “Mum was lucky enough to benefit from research. Others aren’t as fortunate”

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by Cancer Research UK | Philanthropy and partnerships

12 May 2020

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Tania Bryer speaking at an event in front of a large window

Tania Bryer likes to keep busy. Not only is she a broadcaster for CNBC and Sky – her show, CNBC Meets, sees her interview some of the world’s most inspiring figureheads to explore how their philanthropy is transforming lives – she is also a host and moderator at major events including the Davos World Economic Forum and this month, she’ll interview director of the Francis Crick Institute Sir Paul Nurse as part of a new webinar series we’re hosting for philanthropic supporters of Cancer Research UK. A philanthropist herself, Tania has also been chair of our National Events Committee (NEC) since 2011. In that time, she has overseen events raising £4.8m for pioneering cancer research. Here, she tells us about how a personal experience with cancer has become a driving force behind her work.

My mum was a two-time cancer survivor. She had uterine cancer and then bowel cancer. Seeing her confront this disease twice and come through it was very inspiring. She was lucky enough to benefit from research, but of course others aren’t as fortunate. My grandmother and, tragically, one of my cousin’s little boys died of cancer. So when the former chair of the NEC asked if I would take over, it was a no brainer.

When I think of all the money raised through the NEC, it makes me feel proud and hopeful that, in its own way, it will accelerate finding cures. In my time as chair – almost a decade – there have been so many highlights. For example, I work with the BBC’s James Landale on our political event, Turn the Tables, and last year we had Boris Johnson there, who obviously went on to become Prime Minister.

We want people to leave the events feeling inspired and thinking, “I really enjoyed that. It was meaningful and I know why I was there”

Co-chairing our 2019 carol service at St Paul’s Cathedral was another highlight. At first, it seemed like such a huge mountain to climb, but it all came together in one extraordinary moment. With all the events, we obviously want to raise as much money as possible, but we also want people to leave feeling inspired and thinking, “I really enjoyed that. It was meaningful and I know why I was there.”

The biggest highlight, though, was receiving the Cancer Research UK Flame of Hope Award for Transformational Philanthropy. It was amazing to be recognised in that way and I wasn’t expecting it. Through my mum, I’ve seen what research can achieve. That is a driving force for me. And even with all that we’ve raised, I’m always looking ahead to the next opportunity because there’s always more to be done.

As told to Joanna Lewin, Philanthropy Communications Manager and Editor