Why we exist

In 2013 Tom died of Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumour and extensive peritoneal disease at the age of 19.

It was Tom’s wish that his fundraising would continue. He felt that if this was to be done with maximum impact the focus should fall on three key areas – physical and emotional support alongside research. Each of these areas plays a significant part in a cancer diagnosis and the journey that follows.

Our founding principles:

  1. To promote the relief, care, well-being and rehabilitation of teenagers and young people suffering from cancer, and their families.
  2. To carry out research and publish any useful results into the causes and effects of cancer in teenagers and young people.

Our Impact

To date we have donated £176,000 to provide emotional and practical support, £403,000 to develop targeted treatments for teenagers, and 23% of our funding has been used to create age appropriate environments in hospitals.

“We would like to thank the Trustees of The Tom Bowdidge Foundation for their tireless support for the ICR’s teenage sarcoma research and our aim to improve the outcome for DSRCT and Rhabdomyosarcoma patients’

Professor Janet Shipley, ICR

To date we have donated £176,000 to provide emotional and practical support, £403,000 to develop targeted treatments for teenagers, and 23% of our funding has been used to create age appropriate environments in hospitals.

Sarcoma Research

We have pledged to give more than £250,000 to support research into a rare form of cancer called desmoplastic small round cell tumour (DSRCT) – a type of sarcoma that affects soft tissues in the body.

The donation will fund researchers in Professor Janet Shipley’s team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, who are dedicated to understanding DSRCT and other types of soft tissue sarcoma that affect young people.

Professor Janet Shipley is one of the world’s leading authorities on research into soft tissue sarcomas, and the only UK scientist with a dedicated effort into DSCRT research.

Announcing the new award, Richard Bowdidge, Trustee and Founder of The Tom Bowdidge Foundation and Tom’s father, said: “When Nikki and I set up The Tom Bowdidge Foundation we knew that one of the aims had to be to fund research into teenage cancers. There is so little research underway that it had to be a central ambition for us to find a project we could support, and one that could make a real difference to the way in which teenage cancers are treated in the future.

“We’re extremely grateful for The Tom Bowdidge Foundation’s support, which will really help us to drive forward our research that may ultimately help young people with DSRCT and other sarcomas. Without funding from such charitable trusts, it would be very difficult for us to develop our research into these rare cancers.”

Professor Janet Shipley, Professor of Cancer Molecular Pathology at the ICR
Professor Shipley

Emotional Support

Cancer is devastating at any age, but teenagers and young adults are going through so many emotional and developmental changes mean having cancer can hit them hardest psychologically.

To hear the words you have cancer is devastating for a young person and the whole family surrounding them. There will be an overwhelming feeling of shock and thoughts of ‘how can this be happening to us?’ Each member of the family will be dealing with different emotions ranging from denial, shock, rage, disbelief, sadness, fear and loss. Parents will be trying to be strong when inside they will be struggling to breathe; siblings may feel jealous of all the attention their brother or sister is getting; grandparents are feeling for their own children having to go through this as well as watching their grandchild dealing with the treatment. It is a very complex time for families and each family deals with it differently.

emotional support for young people and their families

Many families will be told by well-wishers to stay positive and they know what it is like as their mother had cancer. It is NOT the same at all! Unless you have actually had a child with cancer you cannot even imagine what it is like. How could anyone understand? So who is there to talk to? Will your friends try to understand? Will they stay away for fear of saying the wrong thing?

But what about the young person? Who is there for them?

Not only have they had the trauma of a cancer diagnosis, aggressive treatments, and isolation they then have to watch their friends move on with their lives whilst it feels like their own life has stopped in its tracks and looks like it will take a very different path.

Age Appropriate Hospital Suites

Our first project was very much at the centre of Tom’s heart. His shared care hospital was Colchester General Hospital and he was often admitted for emergency antibiotics to the oncology ward in Essex County Hospital. Having been treated on the Teenage Cancer Trust ward at University College Hospital in London, the difference was vast. Local hospitals simply are not geared up to treat teenagers and young people in age appropriate environments. These young people are no longer children but they do not fit in on an adult ward either. They need to be treated like teenagers first in an environment where they will feel comfortable.

one of the TBF hospital suites

The Tom Bowdidge Foundation took Colchester General on first. With guidance from Teenage Cancer Trust we created two rooms; one in the Out-patient department where teenagers and their families can have meetings, be alone or talk in private. The second room, the Young Adult Clinic Room, is in the Mary Barron suite where teenagers can have their treatment in private.

Meet the Team

As a charitable foundation we have two teams working together to achieve the foundations aims:

The Administration Team who keep the lights on, and the Trustees who are the people who share ultimate responsibility for governing a charity and directing how it is managed and run.

Nikki Bowdidge – Chief Executive Officer
Dr Sandra Strauss FRCP PHD – Chief Medical Officer
John Schultz – Trustee
Anita Osborn – Office Administrator
Meet the Team
Nicci Walmsley – Trustee
Megan Osborn – Trustee
Jon Neill – Trustee
Richard Bowdidge – Trustee

The Financial Statements and annual reports:

Financial Statement for the year ended March 2021

Financial Statement for the year ended March 2020

Financial Statement for the year ended March 2019

Financial Statement for the year ended March 2017