Lives could be saved across the world thanks to the campaigning work of Joanna Freeborough founder of Bath Marrow who graduates at the University's summer award ceremonies this week.
Following the death of her friend Alice Byron from a blood disorder, 22 year-old Joanna from Towcester, Northamptonshire, founded Bath Marrow to encourage students to sign up to the Anthony Nolan bone marrow and stem cell register.
The donor register, for people aged between 16 and 30, seeks to find a suitable match for individuals requiring a life-saving stem cell or bone marrow transplant. Recruiting new donors to the register is crucial to increase the chances of finding a match. University groups like Bath Marrow are important to the charity because of the ideal student age group and high-level of diversity.
Jo inspired a team of student volunteers to recruit 485 people to the register in its first year and organised events on campus and in the City of Bath. This helped to raise £1,654 for Anthony Nolan and its work to save the lives of people with blood cancer. Earlier in the year Jo also ran the Bath Half Marathon as part of #TeamAlice, raising £11,154 for the charity.
Joanna, who will graduate at Bath Abbey with a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies, said: “Alice was one of my closest friends. She was intelligent, brave, witty and utterly selfless. Losing her was devastating for everyone that knew her. She was a student at Cardiff University and throughout her illness she worked alongside Cardiff Marrow to recruit more young people to the donor register. I wanted to do something to continue her work and to help the charity that has been so wonderful to her and her family, so I set up a Marrow group in Bath to recruit donors and raise funds for Anthony Nolan.
“I’m so grateful to all the students who have put in so much time and effort this year to make it a success. I’m touched by the support Bath Marrow received from the Volunteering Office and the Students’ Union in our first year and I look forward to seeing the numbers continue to grow.”
Anna Boneham, Student Volunteer Manager said: “Joanna has worked tirelessly to get Bath Marrow off the ground and to motivate and inspire other students to make the group a success. Her passion for the cause has been compelling. She has put in a lot of work to ensure that Bath Marrow will go on to sign up students and save lives long after she graduates. So many of our students are involved with volunteer work and this is a fantastic example of what they can achieve together. We hope Jo enjoys her graduation day and wish her every success in the future.”
Following graduation Joanna will start working at Mars, on their three-year Management Development Programme.