Hello, my name is Judi Rhys and I’d like to introduce myself as the new Chief Executive at Cancer Research Wales. I took up the role on January 14 2019, following previous Chief Executive roles at Arthritis Care and the British Liver Trust. I have also held Director level posts at Diabetes UK and the MS Society and my early career was in the NHS, working in the field of health promotion. Additionally, I serve on the Board of Public Health Wales as an Independent Member (Third Sector).
I have spent my first few weeks in post getting to know the staff, trustees and volunteers and learning about the charity’s history and its past and current activity. It’s clear to me that we are doing great work and that everyone involved with the charity – at all levels – is passionate about making a real difference to the lives of those affected by cancer in Wales. Cancer Research Wales has funded over £30 million of research since its inception, and through this research, has been instrumental in achieving world leading breakthroughs which have contributed to vital progress in prevention, early diagnosis and better treatment of cancer.
There has never been a greater need for research. By 2030 it is estimated that 230,000 people in Wales will be living with cancer. Although survival rates are improving, nearly 9,000 lives are still lost annually. Many cancer related issues are common across the UK, although several challenges exist that are unique, or greater in Wales.
In July last year, Cancer Research Wales announced a new pledge for £1.75 million of new funding, for projects commencing in the coming months. Many of these studies will support the early career development of cancer researchers in Wales, including PhD studentships and post-doctoral projects. We are keeping up the momentum and expect to announce a new series of grants this spring, thus continuing to be the largest Welsh funder of research into cancer in Wales.
I’m aware that none of this would be possible without the continuing generosity of our supporters. I have been bowled over by the level of support that the people of Wales provide to Cancer Research Wales and over the coming year, I am looking forward to getting out and about to meet as many of you as possible.
Part of my role will be to look at how we can grow the charity in order to fund even more high quality research into cancer in Wales. I want to make sure that, in line with our research strategy, we fund research that is sustainable, timely and relevant. So, I’ll be spending some time looking at these issues over the next few months and I am keen to engage with our supporters to understand your views that can help shape the future direction of Cancer Research Wales.