As you may know, last year at CrimsonXT we sadly lost our friend and colleague Simone to BRCA-related breast cancer. We have since set up a fund in her name, through which we fundraise for cancer prevention and support charities.

In the last few months, we’ve raised over £6,000 through the Simone Taylor Fund. However, beyond just donations we want to champion the work of these charities, to raise awareness of their causes and the work they do. This is the second in a series of interviews by our Co-Founder and CEO Paul Rodwell, sharing the stories of the charities we are fundraising for.




Target Ovarian Cancer is one of our chosen charities for our Simone Taylor Fund and a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of chatting to their Community Fundraising Manager, Mark Drain, to find out more about their work.


Where it all began

The charity was founded 14 years ago, and initially began as just a helpline with trained nurses to support people with fears or questions about ovarian cancer. Since then, they’ve expanded their work to include funding research and raising awareness and they are now the largest ovarian cancer charity in the UK.

“Since 2008 we’ve funded £1.5 million of research and we’ve just funded another big project this year. It’s the first year since COVID that we’ve been able to fund a research project just because of everything going on in the world with the pandemic. So that was really cool for us.”


A job with meaning

Though he’s been in fundraising for several years, working for Target Ovarian carries personal weight for Mark. He explained to me about how his mum fought and beat ovarian cancer when he was younger, which is partly why he’s so passionate about supporting others through the ordeal.

“A lot of people get diagnosed very late and that’s where I feel like I want to give something back, because my mum was one of the lucky ones that it got caught really early. It’s very personal to me and I love working for the charity.”

He shared that working for Target Ovarian Cancer has opened up conversations with his family about the ordeal, something they’d never really spoken about, particularly with his brothers. The taboos surrounding gynecological cancers is one of the reasons why awareness-raising is so important, so that people can be symptom aware and hopefully improve early diagnosis. Mark explained: “At the moment two-thirds of women are diagnosed late, and that’s when it’s harder to treat. We know that with early diagnosis 9 in 10 women will survive, which is why we try to help raise that awareness.”


The impact of COVID

I asked Mark how COVID had impacted the charity and, despite having to pause certain projects, they seem to have fared relatively well. As lockdowns began, they launched an amazing online community for those suffering with ovarian cancer and their relatives – which evolved into virtual meet ups and eventually real-life gatherings.




“From people who have had ovarian cancer, to husbands, brothers, daughters and friends – they’ve come onto this group to support each other through it which is really nice to see and it’s just taken off since COVID.”

However, the pandemic has had a devastating impact on women’s ability to seek the necessary tests and support when they experience symptoms. It’s been a real step back in the fight for earlier diagnosis, something that the charity are heavily pushing for.


The work of the charity

Another key area of their work is hoping turning that tide, in training up GPs to better recognize and address potential symptoms for ovarian cancer. Mark explained: “The symptoms for ovarian cancer can be very similar to that of other diseases, so a lot of the time they get misdiagnosed. So we’re making sure that, if it’s not normal for that certain person, they can request a blood test and be referred by their GP. It’s about making sure that people get the right tests at the right time, and we’ve currently trained over 16,000 GPs across the UK.”



Mark spoke to me about the long-term goals of the charity: Our main goal is to not stop until we’ve seen the survival rate of ovarian cancer double, hopefully by 2050. But over the next few years we want to fund at least two research projects per year, and gain more supporters so we can help more women affected by ovarian cancer. Next year, we’re looking to raise more than £3.3 million, which is the most we’ve ever looked to raise, so we can fund more research, train up more GPs, raise more awareness and do more campaigning.”

Campaigning is another element of the charity’s work. In fact, on the day I spoke to Mark, they’d had an open letter delivered to Downing Street to urge the government to take more action in ovarian cancer awareness and treatment. Every year they run events and campaigns for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and they also have an army of volunteers who distribute leaflets, posters and symptoms diaries in local communities.



When it comes to fundraising, the charity is involved in a ton of challenge events – walks, runs, cycles – that anyone can get involved in. Their main events are the Ovarian Cancer Run/Walks which are held across the UK, the biggest being at the Queen Elizabeth Park in London in October. Mark emphasised their emphasis on community feel at their events. It’s not a race, just a chance to get involved and raise money for the cause.

We have people who have ovarian cancer do it, we have friends and family come as teams, we have work colleagues, people like yourselves, that come along in teams. All help to raise awareness and help raise vital funds.

To wrap up, I asked Mark what he would say to anyone concerned about their gynecological health or certain symptoms. He said: “Please do just go to the GP, go speak to our nurses on the support line, check out our website. There’s so much information on there. If you know that something’s not right or not normal for you then relaying that to your GP means they can send you for the right tests. There’s no right or wrong time to go, and I know from speaking to some supporters that a few wished that they went sooner.”



If you’d like to find more about the work of Target Ovarian, you can check out their website here.