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York Against Cancer co-founder Professor Stephen Leveson awarded Honorary Doctorate at The University of York

09 May 2022

Every year, The University of York awards honorary degrees to “extraordinary individuals who represent the vision, values and excellence of the University and who will inspire graduating students.”

This year, retired Consultant Surgeon, and co-founder of York Against Cancer – Professor Stephen Leveson – had the honour of receiving an honorary doctorate for his outstanding contribution to society.

Professor Leveson said, “It’s an honour to be nominated and receive this award from The University of York. It is as much an accolade for the charity as it is for myself.

Professor Stephen Leveson

After qualifying in Medicine at The University of Manchester Medical School, Professor Leveson joined the Department of Surgery at St. James’s University Hospital, Leeds – performing over 150 kidney transplants in the very early days of transplantation. He went on to join York Hospital as a Consultant General Surgeon.

Professor Leveson was heavily involved in setting up the Hull York Medical School. He has served as a Specialist Advisor for the Care Quality Commission for Surgery Assessment in NHS Trusts and as Chair of Research and Development at York Hospital.

Professor Leveson co-founded York Against Cancer in 1987. The independent cancer charity, providing care and support to cancer patients in York, North and East Yorkshire, has raised more than £20 million over the years to help local people affected by the disease.

Professor Leveson said, “At the time York Against Cancer was set up, chemotherapy was in its infancy and there were no specialist nurses to assist with patient care. The Charity was set up to fund research, improve cancer care and provide information about cancer.”

York Against Cancer

York Against Cancer provide a free minibus service from York to St. James’s University Hospital, Leeds for radiotherapy treatment, short respite breaks at a seaside holiday home in Filey and a mobile chemotherapy unit (MCU) which is a mobile treatment centre offering cancer treatment inside a custom-built vehicle (HGV) available to people in outlying areas of York and Scarborough.

The charity also funds ground-breaking and internationally valuable cancer research at the Jack Birch Unit (JBU) within the Department of Biology at The University of York. JBU Director, Professor Jenny Southgate, nominated Professor Leveson for the award.

Professor Jenny Southgate said, “Many people in York have had their lives touched by Professor Leveson. He is renowned for his skills as a surgeon, researcher, teacher, educator, and fundraising extraordinaire…but everyone who meets him will know him for his larger-than-life character, his humour, and his genuine compassion for his fellow man.

To quote one of his patients “To have cancer is to walk a lonely and difficult road and Professor Leveson and his Charity have worked tirelessly to ease that journey. Not only did he treat the patient, but he also treated the whole (person) and has been constant in his endeavours so to do.”   

JBU Director Professor Jenny Southgate (back left) and Professor Stephen Leveson (back right) – with Doctor Joss Ivory, University of York Chief Operating Officer (front left) and the Chancellor Professor Sir Malcolm Grant (front right).