Daniel Gabbidon: From the Premier League to the Lab

At Cancer Research Wales we consider ourselves very fortunate to have such high profile and hard-working ambassadors. They act as advocates for the charity, representing us at every opportunity, highlighting our pioneering work and encouraging further support for us. One of our amazing ambassadors is former Premier League footballer Daniel Gabbidon – read his story below:

“Becoming more directly involved in a specific Charity was something that I started thinking about more and more as I got towards the end of my Footballing career. When that moment came my next thoughts were, what Charity do I choose and how do I go about building the relationship?

My association with Cancer Research Wales was driven by the passing away of an old School friend. Seeing how the disease affected him and the people closest to him really left a mark on me. It made me realise how ignorant and uneducated I was about Cancer, and how little I was doing to help.

A year after his passing I was a contacted by a member of the Cancer Research Wales team asking if I would be interested in working with the Charity in any way, shape or form. To me it felt like fate.

I have to say that Social Media often brings a lot of strange and unwanted interaction, but the day Cancer Research Wales reached out to me ranks as one of the most positive and exciting feelings I’ve ever had.”

 


After an introductory meeting with our fundraiser Dale, the former Welsh International decided to come on board as an ambassador of the charity and was very keen to get started with some fundraising and awareness events – the most appealing was a return to his hometown of Cwmbran for the Christmas Gift Wrap.

Fast forward two months from the initial announcement, and you’ll find Daniel tied in knots, as he tried to wrap a football for a young fan. A glittering career in the Premier League and 49 caps for Wales is of course something to be very proud of – but unfortunately the same couldn’t be said about his gift-wrapping skills. However, thanks to Daniel, floods of people rushed to the Cwmbran Centre to meet their hero, and of course support us in our fight for a Wales without cancer.

   


Following on from the Gift Wrapping event, Daniel had a real hunger to support Cancer Research Wales and was very busy in the New Year, tracking down former Bluebird teammates ready for the Cardiff City FC Legends Night. Alongside the fundraising team and with thanks to our amazing supporters, Daniel was able to help us raise over £8,000 whilst re-connecting the promotion squad from 2003 for a Q&A evening – just one week before the club’s recent promotion back to the Premier League. The evening was hosted by BBC Sport Wales’ football correspondent, Rob Phillips, who took us back to that famous season, and interviewed some footballing Legends – including Wales all time leading cap holder, Neville Southall.

   

The full event gallery from the Cardiff City FC Legends Night can be found HERE.


Last Friday we had the privilege of taking Daniel, along with others, behind the scenes at two research laboratories currently being funded by Cancer Research Wales, at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. The tour included an invitation to the Godkin-Gallimore immunology labs, and an all access pass to the PETIC Centre. Following the tour, Daniel posted on Instagram:

“Yesterday was probably one of my most insightful days in my existence. Thank you Cancer Research Wales for allowing me the opportunity to see first-hand some of the brilliant work being done at the University Hospital of Cardiff in regards to Cancer and its prevention. Not only that but the continuing generosity that people show in regards to giving up their time and money for the Charity astounds me.Truly amazing.”

I left the University Hospital of Cardiff with my head held low. Thinking that most of my life up until now had been a complete waste of time… lived in a dream world almost.

There have been fleeting moments in my career as a professional Footballer where I actually thought that I was doing something important, making a difference… doing good. But then I had the pleasure of meeting some of the brilliant people down at UHC who are doing life changing work in regards to curing Cancer, prolonging life and improving quality of life. These people are the ones that matter. Who truly make a difference in this world but they need our support to continue learning and fighting this terrible disease.

I was lucky enough to see the PET scanner at UHC, speak to the team and learn about the important role that it plays in diagnosing various Cancers. The machine is 11 years old, cost 2 million pounds and is the only one in Wales.

Trust me, what we are doing now is fantastic but it’s barely scratching the surface so PLEASE PLEASE continue to support Cancer Research Wales and give all that you can. 💛”


Daniel switched on the Christmas lights at Cwmbran Centre earlier this week, and has very kindly arranged a donation to be made to Cancer Research Wales. He also hopes to be involved in lots of exciting new fundraising events in 2019.

“I thank Cancer Research Wales for opening my eyes and I look forward to helping them continue the brilliant work that they do for many more years to come.”