Haringey Mayor Ali Gül Özbek raises funds for cause that resonates personally with him and his family
Ali Gül Özbek capped his year in office as mayor of the north London suburb of Haringey with a charity event to raise funds for the Lymphoma Association.
The event at Tottenham Green centre was attended by politicians, business leaders and fellow councillors, as well as large numbers of well wishers from the Turkish and Kurdish communities.
Among the speakers at the event was David Linch, professor of clinical haematology at University College London.
The mayor, who is not the main decision-maker in the council, does have a significant role chairing ouncil debates and an equally important charitable function.
He told Haber newspaper in an interview earlier this year that he chose to use the charity aspect of his role to raise funds for the Lymphoma Association for personal reasons:: his brother’s struggle with the disease.
Lymphoma is form of cancer that forms in blood cell tumours that is becoming increasingly common in the UK. The association says that one person is diagnosed with it every 28 minutes, making it the country’s fifth most common cancer.
It is most prevalent in people aged 55 and over but it is also the most frequently-diagnosed cancer among young people.
“When my younger brother was diagnosed with lymphoma, he went through nine sessions of chemotherapy treatment. But when the cancer returned, he needed a bone marrow transplant,” he told us during the interview.
“This was a high-risk procedure for him because he had absolutely no immune system left. They had placed him in a sterile glass room that no-one was allowed to enter unless they wore the correct protective clothing. They kept him in there for 19 days – I wasn’t even allowed to go in myself.
“They extracted stem cells from his own bone marrow and he’s recovered well now.
“But the Lymphoma Association really helped me during that process. I needed somebody that I could turn to and speak with on a one-to-one basis, someone to give me advice, and they were recommended to me by a nurse.
“That is why I have selected them for the Mayor’s Special Fund during my year in office and am organising fundraising activities for the charity.”
The charity provides medical information and support to people affected by lymphatic cancer including families, friends and carers.
Cllr Özbek is due to leave his role as Haringey mayor later this year.