Caroline Dinenage, Member of Parliament for Gosport, has celebrated the first meeting of the new Children and Young People Cancer Taskforce.

 The Taskforce was launched by Health Secretary Victoria Atkins and Dame Caroline on 6 February this year with the stated aim to drive forward progress in tackling cancer in children and young people.

Caroline was joined at the inaugural “sprint” by her constituent Charlotte Fairall. The meetings will bring together a wide range of stakeholders in the childhood cancer field, from science and research to medicine and industry, come together to discuss a relevant area of concern.

The themes of the “sprints” range from genomics and detection to research and treatments.

Charlotte is the founder of charity Sophie’s Legacy, set up in the wake of her daughter Sophie’s tragic death from rhabdomyosarcoma at just 10 years old.

Charlotte met with Caroline ten days after Sophie‘s death, and together they held meetings with experts on a range of subjects from Genomics to paediatric oncology, to gather information about the issues and the solutions. In January 2022 Caroline raised the matter in Prime Minster’s Questions and in April 2022 she secured the first ever childhood cancer debate in the House of Commons.

Caroline and Charlotte have met with various Health Secretaries proposing a Childhood Cancer Mission developed as Taskforce that would include scientists, researchers, oncologists, charities, parents, with a goal to create a Children and Young People’s Cancer Plan. In September 2023 Caroline raised the Childhood Cancer Mission with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

 The Chair of the Children and Young Person Cancer Taskforce, Caroline Dinenage said: “Childhood cancer is often spoken of as rare, but it is the biggest cause of death by illness for children under the age of 14.

“The journey to securing this Cancer Taskforce has been one that has seen a number of firsts: the first dedicated debate on the floor of the House of Commons, and today the first of a series of “sprints”, which I was honoured to chair, with the aim of moving the dial on children’s cancer.

“Charlotte and I are determined that this is just the beginning of concerted action that will lead to changing the future for children with cancer.”

Speaking before the first meeting of the Taskforce, Sophie’s Legacy founder Charlotte Fairall said: “I am so pleased that after 2.5 years of campaigning we have managed to get the Children and Young Person Cancer Taskforce off the ground.

“This is an opportunity to make a difference to how we diagnose, treat and care for children with cancer. These children deserve better and we need to give them a voice.”