Founded in a bedroom and now a national charity, St Albans-based Crohn’s & Colitis UK marks 40 years

PUBLISHED: 19:00 21 November 2019

Crohn's and Colitis UK  fundraising team members Sophie McDonald-Taylor, Nicky Gillard, Jackie Mathur and Leanne Downie.

Crohn's and Colitis UK fundraising team members Sophie McDonald-Taylor, Nicky Gillard, Jackie Mathur and Leanne Downie.

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The national charity Crohn’s & Colitis UK is marking 40 years since it was founded in a back bedroom in St Albans.

Still based in the city, the charity now supports hundreds of thousands of people affected by Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis with the aim of working with them to achieve a better quality of life, improve services, and ultimately find a cure.

In autumn of1978 Robert and Patricia Annetts were faced with a sense of numb uncertainty and many questions when their daughter Deborah was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.

They struggled to understand what the disease and prognosis was and felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness and ignorance.

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The Annetts decided there should be a dedicated patients' association for people with Crohn's and colitis, and formed the National Association of Colitis and Crohn's Disease (NACC). Their vision was to raise funds to find a cure for the conditions and create a network of support for sufferers and their families.

With the expert support of Professor John Lennard Jones, a leading gastroenterologist, an inaugural meeting of NACC took place on November 17 1979. This steering group comprised of representatives from the gastroenterology team from St Mark's Hospital, the Ileostomy Association, and like-minded and supportive patients.

In the 40 years following this first meeting, the charity has gone from strength to strength, and now supports over 45,000 members and 50 networks across the country, providing high quality information and practical help through their helpline and working closely with the UK health sector to improve diagnosis and search for a cure.

Chief executive Sarah Sleet said: "It is incredible to see just how far the charity has come in the last 40 years. From a back bedroom in St Albans the determination of the Annetts family and others has helped hundreds of thousands of people over the years. I can't wait to see what we can achieve in the next 40 years."

St Albans resident Annie Swanston, a dedicated fundraiser for the charity, added: "I am very proud of what the charity has achieved in the last 40 years. Following the death of my husband, who had ulcerative colitis, I have run many events to help support those with the conditions and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the charity."

Annie will be hosting a Christmas concert on December 10 at St Saviour's Church in Sandpit Lane, to raise funds for the charity. See crohnsandcolitis.org.uk


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