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ACLT gears up to mark 10 years since Daniel De-Gale's death

LEGACY: Beverley De-Gale (left) with her late son Daniel (centre) and husband and fellow ACLT co-founder Orin Lewis (right)

THIS OCTOBER will mark 10 years since the death of ACLT spearhead Daniel De-Gale, a vibrant donor campaigner and the first black person in the UK to receive a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor.

Daniel was just 21 years old when he died from multiple organ failure following complications from leukaemia. He had previously successfully beat the disease, which he was diagnosed with aged six, after a six-year battle. But his health deteriorated roughly six years after his transplant, something his parents attribute to him having waited too long to find a donor match.

His mother, Beverley, co-founder of ACLT, has ensured that his legacy is a positive one. She spoke to The Voice about how she plans to celebrate his life and continue the work he was so passionate about.

What ACLT has achieved since it was established more than two decades ago has been a fitting way to remember Daniel.

Beverley said that she managed to muster the strength to ensure there were positives to his legacy by always coming back to his memory.

“He is the reason why we do what we do, it is because of Daniel and his journey terrible journey with leukaemia that I am able to get up each morning with a spring in my step. I don’t want to see other child or adults having to walk Daniel’s journey, it’s too painful to even contemplate because he went through much.

“I want Daniel to be proud of what ACLT, me and his stepfather have continued to achieve.

“The alternative of sitting back and not doing anything was never an option for myself or Daniel’s step-father. I personally needed to be kept busy at all times because I really did not want to think too much about our loss, it’s still too painful to this day.”

The low numbers of African and Caribbean donors continue to hit the headlines and new schemes are being introduced to target the problem, but Beverley says progress is being made.

“Sadly, we still have a way to go when it comes to changing attitudes but we are definitely seeing changes.”

Despite his death at a young age, through ACLT, Daniel is remembered and continues to have an impact. She said she wanted people to remember that he was a fighter and a campaigner on a mission to save lives.

“People sometimes say to us that he was the reason donation in our community is now a topic of discussion within the household and the reason why so many within the black and mixed race community started signing up as donors. We would also like people to remember Daniel was the spearhead of ACLT Charity and that, through his journey, a movement was created to change attitudes about donation. People say to us that they joined the bone marrow, blood, organ donor registers because of Daniel and for us, that’s what it’s all about. He had a smile that could melt the heart of any hardened soul, he could immediately disarm you and eloquently engage anyone,” she said.


IMPACT: Beverley, pictured here with a young Daniel, says her son had a smile that could melt hearts

To mark the 10th anniversary of Daniel’s passing, a number of events have been organised.

A “Donate for Daniel” blood donation day is planned for October 8 between 10am and 3.50pm at Barbers Surgeon Hall, Barbers Hall, Monkwell Square City of London.

A few days later a memorial service will be held to celebrate Daniel’s life at St Martin’s In The Fields in Trafalgar Square at 3.30pm on October. The service will be open to the general public.

One of the highlights of the programme is the Gift of Life Ball, a celebrity fundraising dinner and dance ball with a black and white dress code held on October 6 from 6pm to 2am at the Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair.

The Gift of Life Ball, which had been an annual event when Daniel was alive, is making a special return.

“Following Daniel’s passing we agreed to halt the Gift of Life Ball because our spearhead, the reason we started the Ball was no longer here and to be honest it just wouldn’t have felt the same not having Daniel amongst us all being the perfect host. We agreed to bring it back this year because it’s the 10th anniversary since we lost Daniel. It is time to celebrate his life and to recognise the achievements made because of his journey. We don’t want any tears at Gift of Life Ball, we want happy faces, tears of laughter, great food and drinks, top entertainment and huge funds being raised, which will ultimately assist our charities work,” Beverley said.

In addition the celebrity appearances, there will also be a particularly special guest in attendance – Daniel’s donor, Doreene Carney. She is flying in especially from Detroit.

Beverley’s hopes for her son’s legacy and the testimonies of those who have come into contact with ACTL are bolstered by the figures on the charity’s impact.

In its 22-year history, ACLT has registered more than 100,000 new potential stem cell donors and thousands of new blood and organ donors. It’s a remarkable feat but Beverley is conscious that there is still more work to be done. The charity needs greater financial support to achieve its goals and increase awareness around the issue of donation and to facilitate more donor sign ups and matches. There is also plenty to do when it comes to changing attitudes.

Beverley said: “Donation has to be the norm in the black and mixed race community and so when the question is asked ‘are you on the donor registers?’ The answer should be ‘YES’ and if not, the question is immediately asked ‘why not?’”

Tickets to the Gift of Life Ball can be purchased at www.aclt.org

To register to attend the memorial service or to book an appointment at the Donate for Daniel blood drive, call 0203 757 7700.

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