A CHELMSFORD dad who battled against Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia is starring in Cancer Research UK’s new awareness campaign – I Pledge.

Paul Blacketer appears in a TV advert and short film highlighting the charity’s commitment to life-saving research, which is possible thanks to people who leave gifts in their wills.

The new campaign encourages people from all walks of life to make a pledge or to promise to leave something in their wills to help beat cancer for future generations.

The former firefighter appears alongside Cancer Research UK nurses, doctors and scientists who commit to turn these pledges into new breakthroughs.

‘Gifts in Wills’ fund over a third of the charity’s research, helping to turn discoveries made in the lab into better treatments for cancer patients.

Paul, 46, knows first-hand just how crucial this research is to accelerate progress and ensure more people survive.

Paul was on holiday with Emma, his then fiancee, when he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2007. He currently attends hospital for regular blood tests – while a drug which CRUK helped to develop manages the illness.

Since his diagnosis Paul and Emma have been living life to the full – especially since the arrival of their son Freddie, who’s now five. Paul and Emma got married as planned, set up a fire safety business and Paul became an ambassador for cancer research.

Paul said: “I’d had a cough and blurred vision but it wasn’t until my eyesight deteriorated dramatically that I was given an MRI scan and had blood tests taken and received the devastating news that I had cancer.

“I was immediately prescribed a drug called Glivec and thanks to this drug and subsequent derivatives my cancer has been managed for over eleven years.

“As a former firefighter it came as a shock to me when my own life needed saving. I am both humbled and eternally grateful to Cancer Research UK and their supporters.

“I am so grateful to Cancer Research UK – they carried out the early genetics work that underpinned the development of Glivec, which is an effective treatment not just against leukaemia but also against certain rare stomach cancers as well.

“I want to do everything I can to raise awareness of the power of research. Leaving a legacy gift in your Will – no matter how big or small – will make a real difference to one day beating cancer.”

Last year, Cancer Research UK spent over £54million in the East on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.

Danielle Glavin, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the East, said: “Every day, around 90 people in the region are diagnosed with cancer. The good news is, thanks to research, more people are surviving than ever before. But there’s still so much more to do.

“We hope Paul’s commitment inspires as many people as possible to consider leaving a legacy to the charity. When someone writes Cancer Research UK into their Will they are enabling long-term research projects.

“Our progress in the fight against this devastating disease relies on donations from the public. We need the unstoppable force of our supporters and researchers to speed up breakthroughs and save more lives.”

For more information, visit cruk.org/pledge.