Third Sector Awards: Celebrity Charity Champion – Al Murray, DKMS Foundation

For the celebrity or celebrities that have shown genuine and productive support for their chosen charity or charities

How did he get involved?

Al Murray, one of the UK's most popular comedians, began working with blood cancer charity DKMS in 2019, when his six-year-old nephew, Finley, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of childhood leukaemia. Finley's family was told that his only chance of survival was to have a blood stem cell transplant, but at that time, there was no match on the worldwide register.

Determined to help increase the pool of potential lifesavers, Murray teamed up with DKMS to launch a major campaign to raise awareness of the urgent need for more potential blood stem cell donors - not just for Finley, but for the 2,000 other people each year in the UK looking for a matching blood stem cell donor.

What did he do?

In the midst of a busy tour, Al Murray appeared on Good Morning Britain, The Victoria Derbyshire Show, Sky News, Talk Radio, Talk Sport, and wrote columns for The Sun and The Sunday Times. He spoke candidly and passionately about the work of DKMS, and what finding a matching donor - or not - could mean for his young nephew.

Registration numbers soared but later plummeted due to the pandemic. Murray wrote a “letter to editor” urging people to “be a hero from your sofa”, published in the Sunday Times, which led to more than 75 pieces of print coverage. He also incorporated a 'DKMS shout out' at the end of his shows, asking each audience member to register with DKMS before they leave the theatre, and has recently started some fundraising activity - beginning by shaving off his 'lockdown beard' in aid of DKMS, which surpassed his fundraising target by more than 400 per cent.

Why did he win?

In a single day, DKMS received more than 20,000 swab kit requests from the British public - each a potential lifesaver. This number grew to 30,000 over the next two days, and continues to rise.

DKMS estimates that Al Murray has found potentially lifesaving donors for at least 70 people, and possibly many more. In a fantastic piece of news, the charity learned Finley found his own match.

What did the judges say?

“A truly inspiring achievement by Al Murray and DKMS. It's amazing to hear the number of people Al Murray got to register in a single day.”

Highly commended

Adam Kay, The Lullaby Trust 

Finalists

Chris Tarrant, The Stroke Association

Jason Isaacs, British Red Cross

Elaine Paige OBE, The Children’s Trust

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