Laurie Engel was a smart, funny, charming, sparky, sporty boy. Until he was 11 he never had a more serious ailment than athlete's foot.

He lived on a farm in Herefordshire with his parents, Matthew and Hilary, and younger sister Vika.

Laurie wanted to win Wimbledon or, failing that, be a sports writer like his dad. Almost anything seemed possible – except what did happen. He was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer. Despite 17 months of intensive treatment, he died in September 2005, aged 13.

Laurie's friends often speak of his kindness. He said he wanted to make a difference. His family set up the Laurie Engel Fund to make sure that he would.


Laurie was treated at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the childhood cancer centre for much of England. The Engel family found the medical care there world-class, but the facilities and surroundings dismal.

The Engel family set up the Laurie Engel Fund to try to ensure future patients have better conditions than Laurie did. Working initially with Teenage Cancer Trust, the fund raised £1.1m – and as a result a new £2.5m teenage unit opened in 2010. It has been a huge success, delighting patients, parents and staff and setting new standards at the hospital.

The snag was that the unit created a big discrepancy between the facilities available to teenagers and to younger children, who are still being housed in the old, low-grade wards. Recognising the problem, Birmingham Children’s Hospital has launched a £4m appeal to bring all their cancer facilities into a similar class.

In January 2013 the Engels decided to redirect Laurie’s fund to support this important cause – to try to give all the younger cancer patients the amenities they deserve; and to give them the best possible chance of recovery.

Please support us, Laurie, and all the children who will have to endure treatment for cancer in the future.


Birmingham Children’s Hospital treats some of the sickest children in the country. It relies on legacies and charitable donations to fund additional facilities, equipment, and medical research, and to provide the extras that make being in hospital a better experience for its young patients.



UPDATE: 2013

Three great friends are supporting us at the start of our new venture.

Steve Barnett has asked for donations to the Laurie Engel Fund to mark his 60th birthday.

Golf writer Patricia Davies, a tremendous supporter of Laurie’s fund all along, has made it her charity for her year as Ladies’ Captain of Whittington Heath Golf Club.

Jane Keating has asked for donations to the fund in memory of her husband, the brilliant sports writer Frank Keating, who died in January.

Photo by Jeff Morgan

In May Laurie’s sister Vika is aiming to celebrate her 15th birthday – and what should have been Laurie’s 21st – by travelling on horseback from Cardigan Bay to Hay for the fund