Charles meets scientists and charity donors at cancer research centre

The Prince of Wales has visited a cancer research centre to learn how Covid-19 has affected its funding.

Charles is patron of Breast Cancer Now and visited the organisation’s Toby Robins Research Centre in London’s Fulham Road, 21 years after he opened it.

He was greeted by the charity’s chief executive, Baroness Delyth Morgan, before going to a research lab.

The prince heard from Dr Rachel Brough, senior scientific officer at the Institute of Cancer Research, and Dr Alicia Okines, consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, about an innovative trial at the research centre.

The team are looking into a potential treatment for lobular breast cancer, a type of the disease which accounts for up to 15% of all breast cancer cases.

At a reception, Charles also met Breast Cancer Now donors whose support has helped fund the centre’s work.

They included individuals who have taken part in Breast Cancer Now’s £1,000 Challenge, pledging to raise £1,000 for vital secondary breast cancer research.

During his visit Charles met 11-year-old fundraiser Oscar Coulson-Starley from Faversham, Kent, and joked: “Shouldn’t you be at school?”

The schoolboy has raised £1,850 for the charity by making jewellery and tie-dye bags.

He told the prince: “My mama was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2018, and it came back as secondary breast cancer last year.

“Hearing she had the disease was a nasty shock but ever since her first diagnosis I’ve raised funds for Breast Cancer Now in all sorts of ways.”

He presented Charles with some scented candles and tie-dye bags for his wife, Camilla, and daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge.

The prince also met long-term fundraiser Audrey Phillips, 78, from Stanmore, who set up the Wembley Fundraising Group in 1997.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, said: “I was extremely proud to share with His Royal Highness the world-class research breakthroughs we’ve achieved in the 21 years since he officially opened the Research Centre – all made possible thanks to efforts of our amazing fundraisers.

“Our work has been significantly impacted by the pandemic – our researchers lost 230,000 hours in labs across the UK in the first wave, and we’ve endured a blow to our fundraising income that means we’re now less able to fund new science.

“All at the same time as delays in diagnosis and disruption to breast cancer services.”

Every year 55,000 women and 370 men in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Professor Andrew Tutt, director of the research centre on Fulham Road, added: “Everything taking place here is aimed at allowing women with breast cancer or those at risk of the disease to live longer and with a better quality of life.”