Tuesday 16th September 2014

Stephen Sutton was a normal teenager who loved sport and music, when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 15. After a difficult diagnosis, Stephen was supported throughout his cancer by Teenage Cancer Trust and received his treatment in the charity’s three units in Birmingham as well as attending many of the charity’s peer to peer support events. Stephen had already raised half a million pounds for Teenage Cancer Trust when his health deteriorated and he posted what he thought was his “final Thumbs Up” on Facebook on 22 April 2014. That post received nearly 500,000 likes and over 76,000 shares as people responded to his incredible positivity and selflessness.

Comedian and long-term Teenage Cancer Trust supporter, Jason Manford, met Stephen at the charity’s Royal Albert Hall concert series in March. He was so moved by Stephen that he created the #ThumbsUpForStephen campaign on social media and vowed to take the fundraising to £1 million. Stephen’s Story captured the country’s heart, with thousands of people showing their support including many celebrities and even the Prime Minister. Before he died, Stephen was also awarded an MBE for his fundraising.

Stephen’s Story inspired the biggest single fundraiser in the charity’s history. To date, combining online, text and postal donations with the Gift Aid total, Stephen’s Story has raised £4,961,352 for Teenage Cancer Trust and this total continues to rise.

The money was given through nearly 340,000 donations and will be spent on four key areas of Teenage Cancer Trust’s work. These include specialist cancer units, training and development for expert nursing and support staff, information services about cancer for young patients, and peer to peer support events. In partnership with Stephen’s family, Teenage Cancer Trust is also continuing the Stephen’s Story Fund so that those inspired by Stephen can continue to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust in his name.

The charity intends to spend the money given as a result of Stephen’s Story in the following ways:

£2.9 million will be invested in specialist cancer units*

Significant contributions will be made to the development or improvement of 8 Teenage Cancer Trust units for young people with cancer across seven cities - Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Liverpool, Oxford, Nottingham and Sheffield. This includes investment in 2 brand new units (in Oxford and Nottingham) and 6 current Teenage Cancer Trust units in need of refurbishment or replacement. Stephen’s Story will help Teenage Cancer Trust reach the significant milestone of providing a specialist unit within every Principal Treatment Centre for cancer in the country, taking the total number of units funded by Teenage Cancer Trust to 30.

A short film made by young patients at Teenage Cancer Trust’s Southampton unit tells a personal story of how these specialist units make a difference.

£1.2 million will be invested to support vital research and train professionals who work with teenagers and young adults with cancer

We are creating Stephen Sutton Scholarships to develop the skills and knowledge specialist staff need, so that every young person gets the expert support they deserve. This means we will be providing training and development to all medical professionals who work with teenagers and young adults with cancer such as nurses, doctors, youth support workers, counsellors and psychologists. Teenage Cancer Trust will support them with their Postgraduate Certificate in Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Care at Coventry University over a 5 year period.

These scholarships are named after Stephen in recognition of his ambition to have a medical career and will be available to those working in teenage and young adult cancer care. The charity plans to significantly increase its provision of teenage cancer nursing and support staff in future years and these courses will build the foundations for this recruitment.

This investment will also fund research and development posts at the National Cancer Research Institute’s Teenage and Young Adult Clinical Studies Group and the National Cancer Intelligence Network. This will allow the charity to continue to coordinate and identify key areas of research that will be vital to young people with cancer and help to make sure all young cancer patients are identified so that Teenage Cancer Trust reach and support them.

£500,000 will be invested in information services about cancer for young patients

Stephen truly demonstrated the power of digital communication and its relevance for young people. Teenage Cancer Trust will invest in developing a new digital platform so young people can easily find all of the information they need about cancer, it’s treatments and the services available to help them. The digital platform will also help young cancer patients connect with each other and support each other online.

This investment will also cover the development of printed information for newly diagnosed patients as there are some critical gaps in this area.

£200,000 to help patients attend Find Your Sense of Tumour

Teenage Cancer Trust’s annual weekend conference, Find Your Sense of Tumour, is an event that brings together 300 young people with cancer to learn, make friends, share experiences, build confidence and have fun. Stephen said that attending this event played a very important role in how he viewed his cancer. Film footage captured at last year’s event shows Stephen and other young people talking about how important and special Find Your Sense of Tumour is. Stephen also talks about the event to year 9 BBC School Reporters.

For the first time, Teenage Cancer Trust will now be able to commit to paying the travel costs for 1,500 young patients attending Find Your Sense of Tumour over the next five years. Previously the charity has not been able to afford to cover these costs and has relied on hospitals to fund young people’s travel costs.

Siobhan Dunn, Chief Executive of Teenage Cancer Trust said:

Stephen trusted us to spend the money well and to ‘keep doing what we do’ and this is reflected in our plans. However, Stephen has also allowed us to be more ambitious. Stephen’s Story will help us reach some huge milestones for young people with cancer across the UK but we know that for every young person we can help, there’s another we can’t so there remains much more to do. Stephen’s gift to a charity of our size is more than money – the awareness raised of cancer in young people and new supporters inspired by Stephen will be essential if we are to help every young person with cancer who needs us.

Stephen’s mum, Jane Sutton, said:

My son, Stephen, was courageous and inspirational. His selfless fundraising and positive attitude touched people across the world and the huge outpouring of love and support he received in return was humbling. Stephen believed that every young person with cancer has an inspiring story to tell and I know that so many young people in the same position as Stephen also fundraise in support of Teenage Cancer Trust. Stephen was passionate about supporting Teenage Cancer Trust, a charity that helped him understand that ‘he may have had cancer but cancer didn’t have him’. This money will make a significant difference to other young people with cancer and that would have made Stephen very happy. Stephen showed us how incredibly powerful even very small positive acts can be when lots of people get involved. I’m immensely proud of everything he achieved. We will never forget Stephen, and his positivity will live on through Stephen’s Story for Teenage Cancer Trust.

Teenage Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to improving the quality of life and chances of survival for young people with cancer, aged 13 to 24. However, for every young person Teenage Cancer Trust helps there’s another they cannot currently reach. The charity hopes that by 2020 every young person with cancer in the UK will have access to their expert support from the moment they hear the word cancer. To achieve this, Teenage Cancer Trust will need to raise over £80 million in the next five years to support current and new services.

You can donate to Teenage Cancer Trust in a number of ways:  


Notes to editors

For press enquiries please contact the Teenage Cancer Trust media team:

For press enquiries please contact the Teenage Cancer Trust media team:

*Breakdown of unit spend

  1. Edinburgh: The Royal Hospital for Sick Children is closing so the Teenage Cancer Trust unit there will need replacing with new facilities at the new Children’s Hospital. Stephen’s Story will help to make this possible by contributing £360,000 to a new four bed unit for 13 to 16 year olds. The replacement unit will open in 2017.
  2. Glasgow: Yorkhill Hospital is closing and so the Teenage Cancer Trust unit there will need replacing with new facilities at the new Southern General Hospital. Stephen’s Story will contribute £270,000 to a new six bed unit for 13 to 16 year olds. This will complete the £500,000 appeal launched in 2013. The new unit will open in April 2015.
  3. Liverpool: Alder Hey Children's Hospital is closing and the Teenage Cancer Trust unit needs to be replaced with new facilities at Alder Hey in the Park. Stephen’s Story will contribute £317,400 toward this project. There will still be £150,000 to be raised locally to hit the target of £600,000 by April 2015.
  4. London: The charity’s largest unit at University College Hospital is nearly 10 years old and in need of refurbishment. Stephen’s Story will contribute £168,000 to complete the funding for the refurbishment of this 18 bed unit for 13 to 19 year olds. This will include redesigning and updating the current recreational room as well as the creation of a new ward for 20 to 25 year olds which will include a welcome reception area and recreation room. £192,000 has already been raised by other supporters.
  5. Nottingham: Stephen’s Story will contribute £815,000 to facilities in Nottingham. This will be split between a brand new five bed unit for 17 to 19 year olds at Queens Medical Centre Hospital and the improvement of the current Teenage Cancer Trust facilities for 19 to 24 year olds at Nottingham City Hospital. All work in Nottingham will be finished by 2015.
  6. Oxford: Stephen’s Story will provide £60,000 towards a new unit at the Churchill Hospital, in addition to £300,000 that has already been raised. Scoping work at the hospital is underway with a view to opening in 2017.
  7. Sheffield: Weston Park Hospital unit is 12 years old and in desperate need of refurbishment. Stephen’s Story will invest £144,000 in improving and updating this five bed unit for 16 to 24 year olds. The work will be completed by the end of 2014.

The remaining part of the £2.9 million investment in unit improvements will be allocated to projects that will announced in the months to come.

Teenage Cancer Trust

Teenage Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to improving the quality of life and chances of survival for the seven young people aged between 13 and 24 diagnosed with cancer every day. The charity builds specialist units within NHS hospitals that bring young people together to be treated by teenage cancer experts in a place designed just for them.

Teenage Cancer Trust wants every young person with cancer to have access to the best possible care and professional support from the point of diagnosis, no matter where they live. Traditionally treated alongside children or elderly patients at the end of their lives, young people can feel extremely isolated during cancer treatment, some never meeting another young person with cancer. Being treated alongside others their own age by experts in teenage and young adult cancer care, can make a huge difference to a young person’s experience.

Teenage Cancer Trust relies on donations to fund all of its vital work. Find out more, get involved or make a donation.