An athlete who survived cancer thanks to a lifesaving stem cell transplant, will be going for gold at the British Transplant Games, in Leeds.

Lindsey Blackburn, 36, from Middlesbrough, has received support from housebuilder Linden Homes, who is sponsoring and covering the costs of her equipment. This will enable Lindsey to focus solely on training ahead of the event.

“I have fantastic support from my club and coaches but this sponsorship has enabled me to invest more into my training schedule.” Said Lindsey, “Having the most appropriate kit, access to the best facilities and ensuring I’m benefiting from the correct nutrition, I can now make the small – but essential – one percent gains over my competitors. My aim is to compete well enough to earn a place on the Great Britain & NI team at The World Transplant Games.”

It was in 2008, at the age of 22, that Lindsey was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma – a type of Blood Cancer.  Following numerous treatments, the cancer returned – three times in total – and she was eventually told that a stem cell transplant offered her the best chance of a cure.

Lindsey had the transplant in 2011, followed by a lengthy recovery period. She was completely discharged from hospital in 2019 and it was around this time that she discovered she was eligible to compete in the British Transplant Games.

She continues: “I had always been fit and well and very active. After treatment, it was a long road to recovery – at times, I didn’t even have the energy to make a cup of tea.

“The goal of taking part in these Games gave me the opportunity and focus I needed to help aid my recovery; build my fitness and show the world that there is life after cancer, thanks to the wonders of stem cell donation.”

Lindsey, who recently purchased a property at Linden Homes’ Bracken Grange development in Middlesbrough, is training for the three kilometre road race, the 1500 metres and the 4 by 100 metre relay. The Games have been rescheduled for this summer following cancellation of the 2021 event due to Covid-19.

They aim to raise awareness of the need for organ donation, to encourage transplant recipients to lead an active lifestyle and to remember donors and their families. The games also help to highlight the work of Anthony Nolan – the charity which makes lifesaving connections between patients in need and strangers ready to donate their stem cells – and champions the need for blood stem cell and bone marrow donation.

Linden Homes has made the donation in memory of much-loved colleague Ross Sanderson, who sadly passed away in 2019, aged 30, due to complications associated with a rare primary immune deficiency, known as CVID.

Ross also underwent a stem cell transplant following years of treatments for the condition and the sponsorship offered an opportunity to highlight just how important the funding and advancement of stem cell medical research is.

Dave Brown, Managing Director with Vistry Partnerships and Linden Homes in the North East, said: “We are delighted to be able to support Lindsey on her journey to the British Transplant Games and to be raising awareness of a subject that is very close to the hearts of those who knew and worked with Ross. He was a well thought of and highly respected member of the team as well as being an incredible, affable and positive person – with one of the biggest smiles I’ve seen.

“Although the condition Ross lived with was very different to that of Lindsey, who has battled cancer, it shows how vital these treatments – and finding matching donors – is to the lives of people dealing with a range of very different illnesses.”

Linden Homes is currently building new homes on six sites across the North East. This includes the creation of 375 new homes at Kirkleatham Green, near Redcar and a 350 home development at Bracken Grange, in Middlesbrough.

*Picture caption 3: Lindsey Blackburn and Dave Brown