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Flame of Hope Awards 2024: Spotlight on our inspiring volunteers

Jacob Smith
by Jacob Smith | Personal stories

11 April 2024

1 comment 1 comment

A set of Flame of Hope 2024 awards

At our latest count, we have over 25,000 registered volunteers supporting us at Cancer Research UK – that’s enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall four times over. 

And it’s thanks to the dedication of every one of them that we’ve been at the heart of progress that has seen cancer survival in the UK double over the past 50 years. 

In March, we celebrated some of our outstanding volunteers at our 21st Flame of Hope Awards. 

Since the first ceremony in 2003, we’ve presented over 2,000 awards to thank the amazing people who give their time and energy to help beat cancer. 

This year, we recognised more than 130 deserving winners, who support activity right across the organisation – from helping to run our shops and events to sharing their stories and campaigning for change. 

Marie de Marwicz

Marie’s involvement with Cancer Research UK goes back 30 years, to our first ever Race for Life event in Battersea Park. But she’s more than just a keen runner.  

In the years that have followed, she’s a become a passionate advocate for raising awareness about the importance of our life saving research. 

When she signed up for her first Race for Life, she had no idea that she would one day be diagnosed with cancer herself. 

Marie de Marwicz with her Flame of Hope award
Marie with her Flame of Hope award

In 2004, at the age of 52, Marie was diagnosed with breast cancer. As part of her treatment, she had surgery and radiotherapy, and was also prescribed a then-new drug called anastrozole. 

Her own experience with the disease made her more determined than ever to give something back and spread the word about Cancer Research UK’s work. 

Marie’s energy is infectious.

She inspires and motivates everyone who comes in to contact with her. She’s shared her story on stage at Race for Life events, across national newspapers and magazines, and on social media, to raise awareness of not only 30 years of Race for Life but also the importance of signing up for the next 30 years! 

Marie’s voice and actions speak volumes and have reached thousands of people undergoing their own cancer experience. 

To recognise her tireless work for us, Marie, now 71, has been awarded Ambassador of the Year at this year’s Flame of Hope Awards. 

“I realise how lucky I am to be alive, but it’s not just luck, it’s thanks to life saving research,” Marie says. 

“I want to spread the word in any way I can. I’m so grateful to the charity for allowing me to tell my story and make a difference.” 

South Wales Cancer Crusaders

The winners of Pioneer of the Year, the South Wales Cancer Crusaders, are a group of 25 men who are leading the way in modernising how fundraising groups work in local communities.  

The group was established in 2019 because many of the members have friends or family who have been impacted by cancer and wanted to do their bit to raise as much money as possible for lifesaving research.  

And to do that, they’ve embarked on some impressive physical challenges. 

They’ve tackled an 85-mile canoe challenge, 128 mile cycling challenge, the 3 peaks challenge and a 24-hour 100km walk. 

Their most recent challenge was ‘Ten-Y-Fan’ which saw the group attempt to climb the Welsh mountain Pen-Y-Fan ten times in 24 hours. 

Taking on these incredible challenges has seen them raise over £60,000. 

The South Wales Cancer Crusaders
The South Wales Cancer Crusaders

Organising and fundraising for these challenges with a group of 25 people is no mean feat, but the Crusaders have it down to an art. 

All 25 members are extremely passionate about fundraising for Cancer Research UK and do everything they can to encourage local support. 

The group celebrates their 6-year anniversary this year, and their fundraising total so far is an incredible achievement. But their work doesn’t stop here. 

This year, they’re planning to take on a new challenge to take them over and above the £60k already raised. 

Good luck! 

Heidi Stower

Heidi May Stower has taken part in Race for Life in York for the past 12 years. That’s impressive enough, but there’s something about Heidi’s achievement that makes it extra special. 

She’s only 12 years old. 

Heidi was 4 months old when her mum Sarah took her to her first Race for Life, and since then, a passion for volunteering has grown in her. 

Last year, Heidi’s grandad Mike was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which has inspired her to seek out even more fundraising opportunities. 

Heidi with her Mum (right) and auntie (left)
Heidi (centre) with her Mum and Auntie after receiving her Flame of Hope award

One of these included the cold-water dip challenge in which she raised over £1000 by either taking a cold shower or a cold dip in the lake with her mum every day.  

For the last 3 years, she’s also taken part in Relay for Life in York as captain of her team, ‘Heidi’s Hope’. This year alone, her team have raised £3,158. 

And Heidi doesn’t just fundraise herself, she’s passionate about encouraging others to do the same.

Her friend’s and family’s fundraising activities, inspired by Heidi, have raised over £40,000 in her lifetime.  

Beyond fundraising, Heidi has also volunteered to collect at Tesco’s Turn Pink days, and World Cancer Day and Stand Up to Cancer events. She can be seen with her pink tutu and wide smile, and always remembers to thank people when they donate. 

With her caring nature and positive attitude, Heidi is a fantastic young volunteer and will continue to support the charity for years to come. And for that, she’s our Young Volunteer of the Year. 

Keeping the flame alight 

Volunteers are the backbone of our charity – every item you sell, event you attend, petition you sign, story you share, pound you raise and hour you give makes a real difference for people affected by cancer.  

Joining us as a volunteer means joining a movement of people passionate about beating cancer. Our volunteers give their time to help fund research that will save lives. Whatever time you’re able to give – it could be 20 minutes, two hours, or 20 years – collectively, the impact is huge. 

We couldn’t make the progress we do without you. 

We’re proud to be an Investing in Volunteers accredited charity and 85% of our volunteers tell us they would recommend volunteering at Cancer Research UK to friends and family. Volunteering with us means meeting new people, learning new skills and getting involved in new experiences. Every bit of time you give makes a big difference. 

Visit to find out how you could get involved. 


  • Patrick McGuire
    24 April 2024

    It’s inspiring to read about such passionate and dedicated volunteers. It’s also impressive to see CRUK recognise and reward volunteer from across the charity

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  • Patrick McGuire
    24 April 2024

    It’s inspiring to read about such passionate and dedicated volunteers. It’s also impressive to see CRUK recognise and reward volunteer from across the charity

Tell us what you think

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read our comment policy.