SFRS Charity partnership reaches new milestone with 20,000 donor

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s (SFRS) partnership with Anthony Nolan has reached a new milestone, with the 20,000th donor signed up to the blood cancer charity’s stem cell register.

At an event held at the Royal High School in Edinburgh, pupil Erin Tocher became the milestone number, one of 52 young people from her school to join the register. 

Erin, age 17, wanted to give back to Anthony Nolan after the charity helped her younger sister, Eilidh, who received a stem cell transplant 14 years ago.


Unless you’ve been directly helped by a stem cell transplant or know someone who has been, not many people would know about the register.

When Erin found out she was the 20,000th person to join the register through the SFRS partnership, she said: “It mind boggled me! Signing up was an incredible experience, the SFRS volunteers made time to talk to everyone in detail and talk to us what joining the register means.”

SFRS delivers talks in schools around Scotland to encourage young people to sign up to the Anthony Nolan register – which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Former firefighter Ally Boyle founded the SFRS partnership with Anthony Nolan in 2009, after he was diagnosed with a blood cancer for which the only potential cure is a stem cell transplant. 

Ally said: “The partnership was established because, after I was diagnosed with a blood cancer, I could see the desperate need for people to join the stem cell register. Our original aim was to add 1,200 people to the register, so to see Erin become our 20,000th person is mind-blowing."

“We are extremely proud of Erin and all the young people who have so enthusiastically supported our life-saving mission. They fill us with optimism for the future as they show their ability and determination to make a difference.

“I will still need a transplant one day and like 75% of the population, I don’t have a match in my family, but I take great comfort in the fact that I have seen how willing people are to step forward to save the life of someone they have never met.”

Of the 20,000 registered through the partnership, 14,250 have been signed up from schools.  

Charity Partnership Chair Andy Watt said: “To reach this milestone our volunteers have engaged with more than 31,000 young people. Every one of those has not only learned about stem cell, blood and organ donation but has also had an insight into what the SFRS is all about…saving and improving lives." 

Henny Braund MBE, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, added: “It’s incredible that 20,000 young people have joined the Anthony Nolan register inspired by the tireless work of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

“Each and every one of these 20,000 young people represents a real glimmer of hope. There are thousands of patients around the world with blood cancer and blood disorders in need of a matching stem cell donor to give them a second chance at life.

“Thanks to all our SFRS volunteers and those signing up to the register, we can continue to save lives through stem cells.’”

Anthony Nolan recruits people aged 16-30 to the stem cell register as research has shown younger people are more likely to be chosen to donate. 

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