Despite the unusual circumstances we all found ourselves plummeted into during 2020, when looking back, we are proud that we continued to adapt, remained successful in working towards our goals, raising awareness of the symptoms of oesophageal cancer and Barrett’s oesophagus, supporting those whose lives are affected by these conditions and taking steps towards  a better future for those diagnosed.

None of this would have been be possible without your support and so we felt it was important to share a summary of what we have achieved, bringing some positivity at this difficult time and showing you what a huge difference you have made, starting with an amazing list of firsts, because, during 2020 Heartburn Cancer UK had our First...

  • Tandem skydive 
  • Charity Christmas card
  • Sky Ad on TV 
  • Online peer support group

In a year with so much negativity this list got us thinking about the unbelievable things you have helped us achieve. 


Our original plans for reaching more of the UK public and continuing to raise awareness were somewhat dashed by COVID-19, however, never ones to be dissuaded from what we wanted to achieve, our trustees and management team put their heads together early on in the pandemic to ensure that this important work could continue.

We dedicated the early weeks of spring 2020 to designing our new website and ensuring it gave you, the people we want to help, a current and accessible information resource which would allow you to keep in touch with us and our events as well as with developments regarding your conditions.  We are truly proud of our achievement and of the fact that, in it’s first 6 months we have reached 26,000 individuals through this platform alone.  We have seen the website bring in valuable funds, draw in new supporters and most importantly, help many who have questions or concerns who gave gone on to contact us for assistance.

We also took the opportunity of many of us being at home to use the TV as a method of raising awareness and ran a Sky advertising campaign that bought our essential awareness message into over 21,000 homes in the Hampshire, Berkshire and London areas.

The increase in time spent at home also saw social media use increase and with the assistance of the amazing Mel we have worked hard to ensure our awareness message on all social media channels reaches and engages with as many people as possible.  We have seen an increase in our following on all social media channels, three out of four growing by over 400% during 2020 with an approximate number of impressions of over 432,000 throughout the year.  Look us up and keep in touch, no matter what platform you prefer! 

Thank you for what you do and anything that can be done to get more people with reflux symptoms to get their oesophagus checked for "Barrett’s" or worse can only be a good thing and could save lives. Robin – West Midlands


Providing support to those whose lives have been impacted in any way by oesophageal cancer, Barrett’s oesophagus or persistent heartburn is really important to us.  Prior to the pandemic we facilitated active face-to-face support groups in three locations in the south of England.  However, the pandemic gave us the opportunity to extend the way we provide support and to reach people regardless of their location.  The launch of our online peer support group in October has bought together people whose lives have been touched by these conditions in a variety of ways and has begun to form a community who can share knowledge, experiences and provide support and advice to each other.  You would be more than welcome if would like to try us out.

Of course, we have continued to support our original groups, some of whom have been meeting virtually by zoom and have continued to gain benefit from the community they had already established. 

In one way or another we have spoken to, e mailed or virtually supported a growing number of people in the past year and we look forward to being there for many more in 2021.

Thank you again… It’s nice to have someone to chat to that understands the condition – Mike – Shropshire



None of the work we do would be possible without the unbelievable effort from you, our supporters who fundraise because our mission means something to you personally.  We have been astounded this year, that when many people have found their own finances stretched to the limit, we have still seen such generosity. 

Eileen, Jenny and Steve wearing HCUK T Shirts

Of course, like almost all charities, we have had fundraising events postponed or cancelled.  But that doesn’t distract from those that have adapted and gone ahead, often virtually or in a socially distanced way, to keep people safe but to enable support of our work to continue.

The wonderful public donated to our virtual #costofacoffee fundraiser on social media, supported and joined in with the 20for20 collaboration with other rare cancer charities and donated to our crowdfunding campaign through the Aviva Community Fund. 

We had people raise money by completing the virtual test way walk in the spring, during their daily permitted exercise, one supporter walked an astounding 700 miles during lockdown and we can’t forget the four adrenaline seeking men who gained sponsorship to undertake a tandem skydive on our behalf.  A special mention must go to Eileen Collins, who sadly lost her battle with oesophageal cancer in March 2020, but who, together with her close friends, spent her last months tirelessly fundraising and raising awareness and bought joy, tinged with sadness, to us all.   

Later in the year, we were delighted to unveil the first ever HCUK Christmas card and were thrilled to sell 2000 cards, raising both valuable funds and awareness. 

We are always astounded by the generosity of those people who have lost loved ones and who, through their pain and heartache, choose to donate to HCUK to try and change things for those diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in the future.

I wish we had known more - even Dads doctor kept just passing it off as heartburn until it was too late.  If we can help to stop even one person going through what dad did then it will be something. Isobel – Wales 

It is impossible to mention everybody, but our thanks go to every single person who has fundraised or donated  - every penny is valued and will be used to raise awareness, provide support and change the future.

Clinical Input

As well as the work that happens in the public eye, the trustees and staff at HCUK are involved in many research projects, clinical working groups and organisations that together look to establish long term change for the care of those with oesophageal cancer and Barrett's oesophagus:

The Cytosponge

  • AAH (Action Against Heartburn)
  • LSCT (Less Survivable Cancer Taskforce) 
  • Cancer52 (The common voice for rare and less common cancers)
  • POUGIC (Endoscopy Quality Study)
  • Mutographs Project (An international project looking at DNA)  
  • The LINACRE Trial (A trial looking at an alternative treatment for Barrett's)
  • NCRI-AUGIS (RCR-BSG endorsed study for Oesophago-Gastric malignancies)
  • BMS expert roundtable on ‘Gaining consensus on a best practice patient pathway for oesophago-Gastric cancer’
  • DELTA Cytosponge Advisory 
  • AUGIS - Specialist Surgical Lead
  • NOGCA (The National Oesophago-Gastric Cancer Audit) 

We are thrilled to be able to share such a positive list of achievements with you from a really difficult year.  We can't thank you enough for your ongoing support and we look forward to some really exciting work in the coming year.