An Ellesmere Port woman says she is “proud and humbled” after taking over the helm at one of the world’s foremost health charities.
Michelle Mitchell OBE, who was born and brought up in Great Sutton, has become Cancer Research UK’s first female chief executive.
The 45-year-old, mum-of-two has pledged to put those affected by cancer “front and centre” as she sets about tackling one of the UK’s biggest killers and a disease that will affect one in every two people at some stage in their lives.
Last year the charity, which receives no government funding and relies on the generosity of the public, spent over £423m on life-saving research (including £28m in the North West).
Michelle, who attended Brookside Primary School and Sutton Secondary School, is well-equipped for the job, however.
Before joining Cancer Research UK, she was CEO of the MS Society for five years and a founding member of the Progressive MS Alliance – a global scientific and research joint venture tackling Multiple Sclerosis.
Prior to that, she was director general at Age UK – the UK’s largest older people’s charity – where she worked for nearly a decade.
She is also a non-executive director at NHS England, which sets the priorities and direction for the NHS in England, as well as a member of the National Cancer Advisory Group.
Michelle commented: “It’s an honour for me to be appointed CEO of Cancer Research UK. My family, like many others, has been affected by cancer.
“It’s a disease that doesn’t discriminate. In fact, one in two people will be directly impacted by the disease in their lifetime.”
She added: “Having been brought up in the North West and still having strong ties to the area, I feel particularly passionate about making a difference here.
“Sadly, due to a number of industrial, social, population and economic factors, the number of cancer cases in the region is significantly higher than the UK average.
“It’s a sobering fact that five people are diagnosed with cancer every hour in the North West.”
The charity’s ambition, under Michelle’s leadership, is for three-in-four patients to survive for at least 10 years after diagnosis by 2034.
Michelle, was awarded an OBE in 2015 for services to the charity sector, she has a BA in Economics from The University of Manchester as well as an MA in Politics and Public Administration.
She took over as Cancer Research UK chief executive in November after Sir Harpal Kumar stood down from the position that he had held for 11 years.