East Kent Clinical Trials Unit
Pathology Lab

Background

The following report was delivered to members of the Royal Navy Lodge to provide some background into the Area 8 initiative, to demonstrate how the various charity tiers work together, and to underline the importance of continual giving even though members are conscious of the current cost-of-living. 

The driving force behind this Area 8 fundraising was Ray Hazelton – Craft Charity Co-ordinator for Area 8 and Charity Steward of Trinity 7021. If this story is going to get legs, it is only right that Ray has significant mention. He very much corralled to lodges to make the initial donations and communicated updates on a regular basis.

There are a number of Lodges though out the Province of East Kent, with lodges being grouped into areas, Group 8 covers Thanet. 

Each Lodge and Chapter in Thanet were asked to donate  £250. towards the goal of  providing equipment for a Pathology Lab at the Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.

Once the Lodges had raised there sums of money, the Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons Charity (CEKFC) were then approached to match fund this collective donation, which the Trustees of the Charity agreed to (again, without your donations the CEKFC would be unable to assist).

This combined figure was then taken to the Masonic Charitable Foundation (this is where your 2025 Festival donations go) to be match funded again.

Coupled with some other local fundraising, We were able to present a cheque to the East Kent Clinical Trials Unit at the QEQM for £22,000 which is sufficient to pay for the equipment required in a small Pathology Laboratory.

In short, YOUR donations have assisted in every step of this process and I was delighted to attend the cheque presentation along with other members of our Group. 

We were met at the Hospital by Rupert Williamson – Fundraising Manager at East Kent Hospitals Charity who took us along to the New Clinical Trials Unit (St Peters Road entrance) where we were introduced to Jess Evans – Director of Research & Innovation at the Trust, who effectively heads up the new CTU and oversees the 20 or so staff employed within.

A Clinical Trials Unit is, as the name suggests, for trials. Drug companies (Glaxo Smithkline, Pfizer etc.) will offer trial medications (which have undergone many basic trials) to such a facility in return for detailed data as to how the new drug may have worked and how the patient has reacted. (It should be noted that only hospitals with a 24 hour A&E Department can accommodate a Clinical Trials Unit in case of a reaction to a medication.) 

Jess and one of her staff showed us around the facility which consists of a four bed ward with dedicated Nurses Station, a generous consulting room, the staff / research room, and the new Path. Lab. The physical floor-space had come from a ward long since closed and most recently used to store the bins !!

The ward is designed not to be a long stay ward, the notion is that patients requiring treatment are already in a ward elsewhere in the hospital and are bought to the CTU in the event that their conventional treatment is ineffective. Until the opening of this facility, patients would have had to travel to either Brighton, or London.

the ward showing beds and nurses station

The Path. Lab. (the bit that you paid for) has three fridges. One at 4°, another at minus 20° and the third at minus 80°. There is also a “fume cupboard” which allows the researchers to work with blood, tissue and other samples without fear of infection themselves. the donations also paid for a refrigerated centrifuge which allows the researchers to separate a sample based on density. Secure storage and an advanced air conditioning system designed to keep the ambient temperature at optimum, are also within.

Without an adjacent Pathology Lab, the samples would have to be sent off to other centres up and down the country with some going as far as Leeds. The ability to instantly see the effect a treatment is having on a patient allows the staff to be far more agile in varying the medication and the general care provided.

Because of the assistance and valuable information the CTU will provide to the drug companies, it is expected that the CTU will be financially self sufficient in a couple of years time (the drug companies making sufficient donations to the East Kent Hospitals Charity). 

Jess provided us an example of this. A colorectal cancer patient at a similar facility where she had previously worked was not responding to conventional medication. The CTU were able to prescribe an experimental treatment from one of the drug companies and progress thus monitored by the Path. Lab. The total cost of this individual’s treatment was estimated at £6.5m and the cost was borne exclusively by the drug company. The patient has now been clear of cancer for nearly eight years.

 

The CTU at Margate will welcome its first patient in the next fortnight and it will be at that moment, that your charitable donations will start to save lives.

I was truly blown away by what I saw and what I heard on Thursday. Freemasonry is truly a force for good, and what a difference we can make when we all do our bit?

Jess and her staff thank you for your donations. Rupert at the East Kent Hospitals Charity thanks you for your donations. As a very proud Charity Steward of Royal Navy 429, I thank you for your donations. But the people who will thank you the most are the patients we will never see.

On their behalf of everyone involved, I Thank You 

A number of organisations were involved in this remarkable achievement, the Brethren of Group 8 in the Province of East Kent.

The Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons Charity Link to their site. Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons Charity – Together we can make a difference (cornwallisekfc.org.uk)

The Masonic Charitable Foundation Their links is here. Home page – The Masonic Charitable Foundation (mcf.org.uk)

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust their link is here. Patients and visitors – East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (ekhuft.nhs.uk)

Bringing stories like this to our members and to the World Wide Web is only possible if the comms team are notified, please get in touch, however much your lodge or Chapter has raised, as a famous advert says, every little helps. And as Masons, we do a lot of good work, so lets tell everyone about it.

Send your stories to Phil [email protected]