When comedian Alan Carr puts his mind to something, you'd better believe he's going to do it. The much-loved British funnyman has told HELLO! about the moment he decided to become a patron for Neuroblastoma UK after a heartbreaking meeting with parents who had lost children to the rare cancer.
"I thought, right I'm just gonna do something about it," said the 47-year-old, who was spurred into action after he was invited to one of the charity's auctions.
"When I was there, I started speaking to people who thanked me so much for supporting the charity. And oh, my god, the statistics. It's so aggressive this cancer, and I'm speaking to survivors of it, and parents who had lost their kids.... there's one man in a wheelchair who just had it all up his spine."
Alan was shocked about how little is known by the public about the cancer. "No one even knows how to say neuroblastoma let alone know about what it does," he says "No one knows about it, no one knows it affects kids under five. Half the time the battle is raising awareness as well as money. Breast cancer is mentioned, prostate cancer, bowel cancer, but no one ever mentions neuroblastoma and it affects children."
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The TV host has been working with Neuroblastoma UK since 2016. This year the charity is helping double their donations by teaming up with Big Give, in the run-up to Christmas. The charity is dedicated to finding a cure.
Alan sat down with HELLO!, the official media partner of Big Give this year, to tell us all about how he first got involved with the charity and why it's such an important cause to him.
"I know people who've survived it. I know people who've lost it," he says. "The statistics aren't great. It costs a fortune to get these kids help."
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Alan says Neuroblastoma UK is different to other charities: "They're all very hands-on. A lot of the people involved have lost children. So when we go into meetings, you see it firsthand.
"It's not faceless, it feels like a family. And you'd be in tears at how everyone helps each other because everyone has been through that pain."
Neuroblastoma UK has certainly left a lasting impression on Alan, who explained the other ways in which they provide support.
"It can be emotional help as well. It can be financial assistance with bills and then getting the children the best care that they can. It's the full package. They're there the whole way. And the more money we get, the more lives we can save, and the more funding we can get to try and just eradicate it."
What is neuroblastoma?
Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that develops from cells left behind from a baby’s development in the womb.
Neuroblastoma affects around 100 children each year in the UK, about 6% of the total number of childhood cancer diagnoses.
It usually affects children under the age of five and can occur before a child is born. It is the second most common solid tumour in children after brain tumours.
The charity has impressively raised nearly £9 million to help research the disease and come up with better treatments. By teaming up with Big Give, who promise to double the donations made to charity in the run-up to Christmas, Alan and Neuroblastoma UK hope to raise an additional £8,000.
Alan continued: "We're trying to reach £4000 in donations that of course will be £8000 thanks to Big Give. It's the first time Neuroblastoma UK is involved in it. And it is the easiest way to do more with your money."
"I really want to help these children battling cancer, then this is a perfect time because whatever you give will be doubled and we're twice as grateful."
When he's not busy working with Neuroblastoma UK, Alan can be seen on our screens in ITV's Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream. The comedian is a judge on the reality programme, alongside Samantha Barks, Amber Riley and Jessie Ware.
Chatting about the show, Alan said: "Oh, I absolutely love it. I so love it. I mean, you might have heard this, but I started crying when I got the job," adding that he would go back in a "heartbeat" if the show got the green light for season two.
Away from his TV work, Alan recently finished the US tour of his stand-up show, 'Regional Trinket'. "I got such a lovely welcome," he said. "And yet you realise how vast it is. I mean, there was one crazy day when I did New York, and then had to fly across to LA to do two shows. So that was pretty insane. But really enjoyable."
One of Alan's highlights from the trip was having his good friend Adele sit in the audience. "That was wonderful and it was nice to catch up with her," he said.