What does the team do?
Anthony Nolan’s 50 volunteer couriers have a highly specialised role: collecting and delivering stem cell donations to patients in desperate need of life-saving transplants. The volunteers have just 72 hours to safely deliver the bag of stem cells from the donor, wherever they are in the world, to the patient waiting in the UK. It can happen at all times of day and come from all four corners of the world.
What has it achieved?
In 2016, the team undertook 1,008 trips, visiting more than 20 countries to give over 1,000 people a second chance at life. Their role is not easy: they have to sprint through airports to make connections and face tough questions from security officials, as well as constant travel delays.
Why did it win?
Nurses, doctors and lab staff say they favour the Anthony Nolan volunteers above others, including commercial couriers. The team handles stressful and difficult situations with professionalism, and volunteers have the necessary assertiveness to make sure they, and their lifesaving cargo, are prioritised. After the tragic events of 11 September 2001, for example, an Anthony Nolan volunteer was able to secure a seat on the first private jet to leave the US, ensuring the life-saving stem cells were delivered within the 72-hour window.
What did the judges say?
"Amazing, resourceful individuals who deliver results under extreme time pressure," said Laura Pett, director of campaigns at the Royal British Legion. "Knowing that this service is often delivered by paid staff working for companies, the fact that a team of dedicated volunteers is so valued by health professionals is wonderful."
Spurgeons Children's Charity
Fine Cell Work