The charity was founded as the Lung Cancer Fund in 1990 by Professor Ray Donnelly, FRCS, a thoracic surgeon working in Liverpool, to raise awareness of the problem of lung cancer, to promote an intensive research programme into the causes, prevention and management of the disease, to provide support for patients and their families during the course of their illness and to help people not to smoke, especially children.
The first lung cancer support nurse was appointed in Liverpool in 1991 and work began soon after in local schools to help children not to smoke.
The first grant to investigate the early genetic changes occurring in the development of lung cancer was given in 1993 to Professor John Field in the University of Liverpool.
In 1993 Ray Donnelly put together his ideas for an international centre for lung cancer research. At this time much loved UK entertainer Roy Castle was diagnosed with lung cancer. Roy agreed to give his name to a special appeal for the Lung Cancer Fund to raise £12m to build, equip and run the centre.
Roy Castle spent much of the last year of his life helping to raise millions of pounds for the appeal. Sadly Roy died in September 1994 and his heroic contribution was recognised by changing the name of the charity to The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.
A detailed history of the early years of the charity can be read in Professor Donnelly’s book ‘Cinderella Cancer’.