Cancer Research UK and Network Rail

Rail firm's staff vote to link up with leading cancer charity

The fundraising bike ride
The fundraising bike ride

When Network Rail's two-year partnership with the NSPCC ran out earlier this year, the firm - which owns and operates Britain's rail infrastructure - sent a message to all its 37,000 staff, asking them to suggest which charity it should support next.

Staff involvement was vital, the firm decided, because its contribution comes largely from fundraising events organised by its employees.

Once the nominations had come in, a shortlist of the four most popular charities was drawn up and staff were asked to vote for which one Network Rail would support. To encourage people to vote, the firm agreed to donate £1 per vote to each of the shortlisted charities.

Cancer Research UK was the outright winner. "We had worked with the charity before, so it was a familiar name around the company," says a Network Rail spokeswoman.

In the three months since the partnership began, Network Rail staff have raised almost £200,000 towards their two-year target of £1m. Much of this has come from events, including dragon boat races, skydiving and a sponsored bike ride from Land's End to John O'Groats.

Network Rail has agreed to become the first official sponsor of the charity's Relay for Life events. These involve participants completing laps of local parks or race tracks. The firm is also planning to launch a national health awareness campaign, using billboards at railway stations and posters at depots to encourage staff and members of the public to be more aware of cancer symptoms.

Sara Rees, business development manager at Cancer Research UK, said the charity was pleased with the partnership. She said railway stations were ideal for reaching a large audience with health messages.

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