Publish date: 22 March 2024

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance has welcomed two new lay members to its Board – Jayne Leech and Natasha Dawson.

Lay members advocate for the patient and public voice and both Jayne and Natasha bring a wealth of personal and professional experience of cancer to the Cancer Alliance.

Photograph of Natasha Dawson

Natasha Dawson, pictured left, works for the Ella Dawson Foundation, a national charity set up in memory of her sister Ella who died of leukaemia aged just 24. The Foundation provides wellbeing support for young adults with cancer and their families, during and post treatment.

She has also been involved in setting up 5K Your Way Move Against Cancer in West Yorkshire – a initiative that inspires and empowers people affected by cancer to live an active and fulfilling life.

Natasha said: “During Ella’s treatment, the clinical side of things was excellent, but we found that wellbeing support tailored towards the unique needs of young adults with cancer in the UK was limited.”

During her treatment, Ella set out how to shape a blueprint of how young adults with cancer could be better supported holistically, and the charity was born.

Natasha added: “I am passionate about doing all I can to improve the experience of cancer patients, particularly young people.”

Jayne Leech.jpgJayne Leech, pictured right, cost of living manager at Calderdale Council, was attracted to the post having worked in public engagement and also having personal experience of cancer in her family. She carries a mutated BRACA 2 gene which puts her at higher risk of certain cancers.

“My discovered I was a carrier 20 years, as was my mum, and I underwent preventative surgery,” she said. “This has affected family members in varying degrees, though we are lucky that medical advances have enabled us to live well.

“I feel that my personal experiences will help me to ensure that the patient voice is heard and that I can hopefully make a difference to improving cancer pathways in our region.”

Jason Pawluk, Programme Director of the Cancer Alliance, said: “We are honoured to welcome Jayne and Natasha to our Board.

“Their considerable experience and diverse backgrounds will bring added strength and vision as we work to deliver the strategic early diagnosis and survival goals set out in the national cancer strategy.”