The Latest Newsletter from the Arch to Arc Cycle Ride

What fantastic weather we’ve been having over the past few weeks, plenty of opportunities for training before the event!

This is a very quick update newsletter to let you all know that we’ve had to change the route slightly.  We are now travelling to Calais rather than Boulogne, this is because the ferry companies are no longer sailing to Boulogne for financial reasons.

This will mean that we’ll forgo the stay in Dover on the first night and sail straight across to Calais which will give us a nice fresh start on the next day. We’ll publish the day 2 change in route on the web-site in due course so that those of you with GPS devices can upload them if you wish.

In terms of any extra distance it’s marginal so dont worry about that!

By now you should all have heard from Crispin with regards to the arrangements, rooms, shirt sizes, trains, bikes etc etc.  If you haven’t heard from us then please let us know as soon as possible so we can make sure we have everything organised.

As ever if you have any questions then please feel free to call us or e-mail us by clicking on this link

Keep up the training and we’ll be in touch again soon!

Andy Thomas Arch To Arc co-ordinator

Crispin Dior James Whale Fund Events Team

Posted under Andy Thomas, Arch To Arc 2011

This post was written by AndyThomas on April 25, 2011

The latest Arch to Arc Newsletter


First of all thank you once again to all of you who have signed up the Arch To Arc. With over 30 riders for this year’s event entries are now closed. So we have the team and we’re all raring to go!

Your Training

We hope you’re fully stuck into your training schedule. If not – don’t worry, you still have a good amount of time to feel fully prepared for the event by following the 14 week plan on our web site. For more information click on this link.  The weather’s been great recently so let’s hope it keeps up so we all have no excuses!

Your Fundraising

Most of you will be well on your way to your personal £1000 target and money is now starting to come into the charity, so thank you for your efforts so far, lets keep it going!

What you need to know

We’ll be setting off from London at 8am on the 23rd June so you need to make sure you’ve made arrangements to be at Speaker’s Corner (next to Marble Arch) by 7:30am at the latest.

We’ll take care of the rest! Ferries, Hotels and rail tickets will be taken care of and food will be provided along the way, breakfast, snacks, drinks, lunch and evening meals.  The only meal we ask you to pay for is your breakfast on the ferry over to Boulogne because we have a very early start on the Friday morning and there wont be time to get breakfast at the hotel before hand (The ferry does a great cooked breakfast!!).

We’ll give you the exact times for the rail trip back to London in the coming weeks once we have the confirmations from everyone (see below), however to help you we anticipate arriving in Paris around 2pm.

What we need from you

Here’s a list of things you need to let us know NOW so we can deal with the final fine details:

  • How do you want to get your bike back?  Click on this link to see the 3 options we have on offer.
  • If you are cycling with a partner or friend then please let us know who you want to share a room with for our overnight stays along the way. If you are cycling on your own, dont worry we’ll sort it for you.
  • What is your shirt size (s, m, l, xl)?  We want to provide everyone with a James Whale Fund cycling shirt as a momento of your efforts and for photo opportunities to promote the fund.
  • Any special dietary requirements you may have?
  • If you want to stay in Paris overnight then please let us know so we can book a rail ticket for you next day rather than on the day we arrive. You’ll be expected to make your own Hotel arrangements for that night if you’re staying in Paris.  For those staying we intend to arrange an informal post ride diner at somewhere reasonably priced where we can all share the costs.
  • Confirmation back to us of your full name as it appears on your passport.

That’s it for now, as ever if you have any questions then please feel free to call us or e-mail us by clicking on this link

Keep up the training and we’ll be in touch again soon!

Andy Thomas Arch To Arc co-ordinator

Crispin Dior James Whale Fund Events Team

Things you need to do and think about

Have you got your insurance?

How you want your bike to get back?

Have you started training yet?



Arch to Arc is a fundraising event of the James whale Fund, with its own unique WEB site. Please note that Unsubscribing to the Arch to Arc updates and any of its Newsletters will NOT exclude you from receiving updates and information about the General work and other events that the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer may send from time to time. To do this you must visit the site of and take the Unsubscribe option.


Posted under Andy Thomas, Arch To Arc 2011

This post was written by AndyThomas on March 30, 2011

All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer

I was lucky enough to goto this meeting last week at Westminster on behalf of the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer.  As with all of these things I never quite know what to expect when I get there.  Sometimes it’s highly interactive and you need your wits about you and other times it’s just a case of listening to speeches that generally dont inform you about anything.

Well, this event was for sure the former!  About 50 people all in  and a mix of MPs, Members of the Lords, Medics, Charities, Patients, Carers. Couldn’t have been much broader if it had tried.  Initially they split us into groups of around 5 to formulate the key questions we wanted the Minister of Care Services to answer.  Interesting that most of the questions revolved around the new devolution of power to the GPs…. there’s much concern about it.

It’s good to see inclusion like this. Did we get the answers we needed?  Well, not exactly, but they were big topics and it would have been churlish to have expected it.  I did come away with copious notes that I took, but I’m not sure there would be a huge advantage in going through them, so I wont bore you with it.

What I came away feeling was that to really make change you have to be out there lobbying for it.  I hate politics, but unless you engage with it I doubt you’ll ever see the changes you want. Cyclically I felt that as an MP it probably didn’t matter which party you were a member of, the key was to be at Westminster, lobbying, networking and pushing for change.  By the time we get to see white papers, policy documents etc the decisions have largely been made so hopefully the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer will be in there lobbying for us.

Now with the lack of clarity around the new Cancer Fund we need lobbying more than ever (a point that was well made at the meeting). The biggest danger we have (which I spoke about before in this blog) is that by pushing the responsibilities to the GPs means that we have de-centralised even more than before and I see a real danger that the appeals process for drugs will become worse not better ……. lets keep up the pressure!

Posted under Andy Thomas

This post was written by AndyThomas on February 7, 2011

James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer welcomes NICE’s approval of drug in the fight against kidney cancer

Good news for Kidney Cancer patients in the UK! This is the latest press release from The James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer on Votrient.

James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer welcomes NICE’s approval of drug in the fight against kidney cancer

The UK’s leading specialist kidney cancer charity has welcomed the news that NICE has approved GlaxoSmithKline’s Votrient for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced renal cell cancer. However, following on from recent news that cancer survival rates in Britain lag behind those in other Western European countries, the Fund has expressed concern that more needs to be done.

Rose Woodward, a kidney cancer survivor and Head of Patient Support at James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer said;

“We are relieved that NICE has recognised the importance that there must be more than one type of drug to treat late stage kidney cancer. Until today there has only been one drug available to clinicians to prescribe to their patients and this has proven not to be effective for everyone. We hope that Votrient will help fill that gap. We have campaigned for many years for more drugs like Votrient to be made readily available because kidney cancer is a type of cancer that is very difficult to treat. It cannot be treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy like many other cancers. Once kidney cancer spreads, these new drugs are the only hope that patients have to extend their life.”

Broadcaster James Whale, founder and Chairman of James Whale Fund for kidney Cancer and a kidney cancer survivor said;

“Kidney cancer patients will find this approval of the cancer drug Votrient a great comfort so close to Christmas. NICE has been fully aware that the mood of the Government and the general public is that terminally ill cancer patients should not be denied cancer treatment and, after the farce surrounding the refusal of Everolimus earlier last month, some good news is long overdue. As someone who has been directly affected by kidney cancer, I understand just how imperative access to these life-prolonging drugs is.”

Julia Black, member of the Patient Advocate Team for James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer said;

“The UK’s cancer death rate is currently higher than the European average and NICE’s decisions are having a profound effect on the way we treat our cancer patients and the quality of health care available. It leaves UK kidney cancer patients at a major disadvantage in terms of the availability of state-of-the-art cancer drugs, and this means patients in the UK are likely to die prematurely compared to the rest of Europe and the USA. This is unacceptable. We are forever hopeful that NICE will now see the need for a second-line treatment and look forward to the appeal for Everolimus at the end of February 2011.”

Editor’s Notes:

James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer is the UK’s leading kidney cancer charity and was set up in 2006 by broadcaster James Whale who lost a kidney to cancer. Today James continues to lead a full and busy life, as do the majority of people who are diagnosed and treated early. Every year almost 7,000 people in the UK learn that they have kidney cancer; that’s over 16 people a day. And yet the condition – the eighth most common cancer among men – rarely attracts much public attention. Our mission at the James Whale Fund is to try and change that.

For more information about James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer, please visit or email Freddie Johnson at or call 0845 225 1500.

Posted under Andy Thomas, Votrient

This post was written by AndyThomas on December 24, 2010

Kidney Cancer Christmas Cards…..

For those Scrooges amongst us like me who haven’t got round to buying their Christmas Cards yet then why not buy them from The James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer and make a difference.

Let’s face it Kidney Cancer doesn’t get much press and we really need to get this front and centre. So go on, order some from the Fund now by clicking on this link.

Posted under Andy Thomas, General

This post was written by AndyThomas on December 2, 2010

Are we stuck with a new kind of Postcode Lottery?……..

I was lucky enough to go to the House of Commons last night to a Cancer Research UK reception as a representative of the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer.

I had high expectations about the meeting given the new announcements about NICE being stripped of its powers and the Cancer Drug Fund, however it was probably unfair of me to have set those expectations. The evening was a culmination of a whole days effort that CRUK had put in meeting MPs with their key 70 or so ambassadors (volunteers). So for them it had been a hard day of lobbying.

The reception was 2 hours long and more of an opportunity to grab a quick drink and network. There were some short speeches to reiterate the work CRUK is focused on. Their focus is on research and early screening and to that end they spend around £350m each year, and I’m glad for that!

I managed to corner Harpal Kumar (CEO of CRUK) and I asked him what his views were on the new announcements. His views seem to echo many of ours (and without quoting him directly) he felt that now that we are moving to a more localised value based system the postcode lottery could potentially worsen and we need to keep a strong eye on it to ensure that there is full transparency. One way to measure this would be to maybe have direct comparisons for each SHA area, so for example, it would be easy to see if an SHA was failing if the outcomes for a Kidney Cancer patient were worse than another area.

At the moment, this is still all hypothetical, because the Government is yet to consult on its plans for a value based system. However, I still think we’re stuck with this whole Qualy nonsense whatever happens, it’s all “Value Based” to me. I’ve always wanted to see the real calculations behind Qualy but have only ever been told in the most patronising fashion “It’s too complicated for the likes of you”. Well if it is or isn’t I’d like transparency around it and be able to have public access to it.

I worry; the whole “Lets put the power into the hands of the local people” isn’t solving anything as far as I can see and may well make it worse. It also gives the government the opportunity to potentially wash their hands of it saying “it’s down to each local area to manage its own budget and we’ve given all we can with the new cancer fund”. OK, so this is just my own personal view and I could be being overly pessimistic.

Suffice to say I believe that the battle with the Postcode lottery and access to new Cancer Drugs is far from over. The sooner the authorities wake up to the fact that beyond surgery there is NO CURE for Kidney Cancer and the new drugs are the only available treatment. Drugs that not only extend life but also give quality of life. If it’s good enough for other countries such as the USA and other parts of Europe then why not the UK? Sorry Mr Cameron but if you can afford to have a personal photographer paid for out of tax payers money then methinks priorities are still a bit of a mess.

The evening was fantastic and thank you to CRUK for letting me come along.

A slight aside.  It was of some comfort to me that the work CRUK does is complementary rather than overlapping with the work the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer does. To me they offer different services to the patient. This is a good thing as one of the thoughts I have struggled with in the past is why we have so many different cancer charities all seemingly doing the same thing and all after the same funds. Well, there is a differentiation in what they all provide e.g. direct patient support, palliative care, lobbying, awareness raising, research etc etc i.e. there is room for everyone as long as we stay focused on our core strengths and missions. Also, whilst CRUK is clearly a strong lobbying body and can exert enormous pressure when required it’s important to have multiple organisations lobbying for the needs of patients with different cancers as well (attacking from all sides for want of a better way of expressing it).

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Posted under Andy Thomas, General

This post was written by AndyThomas on November 4, 2010

N.I.C.E. To be stripped of its powers

Today has seen the long awaited decision to strip N.I.C.E. of its powers that enabled it to ban the use of much needed drugs. For the Kidney Cancer community this can’t come soon enough. For years now we’ve been fighting for our rights for new cancer drugs and treatments, for many this decision has come too late but nevertheless we’re grateful that common sense and decency have prevailed.

I have my concerns though.  Yes I’m delighted that this quango has had this controversial powers removed and it’s been downgraded to an organisation that will help write guidelines, but what does this really mean?

N.I.C.E. was only ever supposed to be group that offered guidance anyway, and why is it going to take until 2014 to action this? Surely that should be instant.

Also, are we moving into an even more ill defined postcode lottery? Who will really decide what drugs are going to be made available to you as a patient? The doctors, PCTs, some “to be defined” local committee? I’ve seen little clarity on this as yet and I worry that we could be entering into an even worse era.

It’s great to see N.I.C.E stripped like this, but let’s not take our eye off the ball. I’m going to the house of commons on Wednesday this week and I’ll be interested to hear other people’s views on this. I’ll report back.

Posted under Andy Thomas, N.I.C.E.

This post was written by AndyThomas on November 1, 2010

James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer Curry Night a Huge Success

What a great evening we all had last night at “Le Raj” in Epsom Downs. The food was fantastic, the staff were excellent and I can’t believe that Enam Ali gave all of this for free! which meant all the money raised went to the Fund directly.

I cant remember the exact total that Chris Tarrant and Shane Richie raised in the auction at the end of the meal but they’re clearly used to doing this kind of stuff and used all their guile to eek out every last penny from the diners. The bids went way beyond my wallet capacity.

So, was a Chris Tarrant the same person off screen as he is on screen? I asked if he minded me taking a photo, you make up your own minds……

One of the bids got very confusing, it started as “A days archery with James Whale and a few of his friends” and ended up as (and this is my best guess) “A day with Shane Richie dressed as Robin Hood in the forest with the person bidding dressed, (or not), as Lady Godiva on horseback”. Anyway money has changed hands now, promises have been made and photographers are on standby, so good luck with that one Sandy! And let’s hope it’s a warm day!

As usual the James Whale Fund team did an excellent job of pulling this all together, they do it with such ease now it all seems second nature, although I’m sure Sarah would say something different.

Great night out! Thanks.

All the money raised goes towards helping fund initiatives for Kidney Cancer such as the Nurses Training Courses and the Patient Day on the 17th November

Posted under Andy Thomas, Patient Day 17thNov2010

This post was written by AndyThomas on October 20, 2010

The James Whale Fund speaks out on the New Interim Cancer Fund

Good to see that the James Whale Fund is keeping the pressure on for Kidney Cancer patients across the UK.

James Whale said “Today’s launch of the Interim Cancer Drugs Fund offers a
ray of hope to kidney cancer patients, many of whom are in the depths of
despair because they have been denied cancer treatment by their local NHS
Primary Care Trusts. We applaud the creation of this Cancer Drugs Fund, but
we need to know the Fund really will do what the Prime Minister told us it

Rose Woodward, herself a survivor of kidney cancer and Patient Advocate for
the Fund said they had spent the weeks since the announcement of the interim
Cancer Fund trying to find out from NHS managers how cancer patients could
access the millions of pounds in the Fund. Rose said ” we have kidney
cancer patients lined up waiting to be told how this Drugs Fund will
actually work. At the moment it is another hurdle for patients to jump over
at a time when they are ill & deeply distressed We are told patients still
need to be refused twice by PCT’s before their Doctors can apply to the
Drugs Fund. This is not good enough – the NHS needs to get it’s paperwork in
place before raising patients hopes.

It really is great that the Interim Fund is there to help patients but they need to be very clear on how patients can access the fund and not raise hopes. Patients have spent too long battling against the PCT’s at a time when they need help. Please let’s put a stop to this and make it work.

Posted under Andy Thomas, Cancer Drugs

This post was written by AndyThomas on October 1, 2010

James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer at the House of Lords

What an evening! Well done to the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer team for bringing this all together.

This year the world famous singer, composer and piano player Buddy Greco together with this talented singing artist wife, Lezlie Anders were guests at this year’s James Whale Fund Presidents Dinner (Buddy is in the foreground of the picture below with Lezlie standing next to him). We were lucky enough to be sitting next to them and what a charming couple they are. They’ve recently left California to settle in the UK and are still touring and working as much as ever.

You can also see Peter Stringfellow and his wife in the picture with Jane Cure standing between them. Peter Stringfellow made an excellent off the cuff speech to close the evening.

The stars of the evening though have to be Adrian and Jane Cure who gave us a moving talk about their experience of Kidney Cancer and how it has impacted their lives. I think it was an inspired choice to have them speak as it really drove home why we were all there and why the charity needs continued funding. You can see Ade below giving the talk. What was truly inspirational was how they are handling it all, rather than dwell on the negatives of the disease and how it has touched them it was all about the positives and how every day matters. In fact Ade gave a toast to “Life”.

Adrian and Jane have also brought out a 2011 calendar called “Wellesbourne Blooms” in the style of “Calendar Girls” in aid of the James Whale Fund, well worth buying. Beautiful photography and very tastefully done. There is also an accompanying DVD to go along with it on the making of the calendar. If you want to purchase one then visit their web-site here and follow the links. Or you can purchase the calendar direct from the James Whale Fund site here.

A magnificent evening was had by all and again a big thank you to the James Whale Fund for making this happen.

Posted under Andy Thomas

This post was written by AndyThomas on September 27, 2010