Charity dinner in fight against superbugs

Leslie Ash and Director of CHAI Professor Richard James
29 Sep 2010 15:07:22.723

An exciting line-up of exclusive lots will be going under the hammer this week for a charity fundraising campaign to raise £1.4 million in the fight against healthcare associated infections.

Money raised from the gala dinner and charity auction, taking place on Thursday September 30 at the Royal Automobile Club on London’s Pall Mall, will fund research by world-leading scientists at The University of Nottingham’s Centre for Healthcare Associated Infections (CHAI).

The centre is focused on the development of new methods of preventing, diagnosing and treating superbug infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile (C.diff), which in the past decade have killed almost 37,000 people.

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Thursday night’s charity auction will be hosted by journalist and ITN newscaster Alistair Stewart and the event will be opened by CHAI’s patron, the actress Leslie Ash who has been campaigning for action on superbugs after she contracted MSSA, a strain related to MRSA, six years ago. 


Among the lots up for grab on the night will be:


  • The chance to enjoy a match in a private box at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, a private tour of the stadium and a football signed by the Arsenal team
  • Tea on the terrace at the Houses of Parliament with MP David Burrows
  • A tour of the BBC Television Centre in London’s White City, including the opportunity to go behind the scenes of either the BBC News at One or the Six O’Clock News and watch as they air live.
  • A Gary Lineker script from Match of the Day and signed photograph
  • A pair of Debenture tickets for the opening day of Wimbledon 2011, likely to allow the lucky bidder to see world no.1 Rafael Nadal in action on court
  • Haircut with celebrity stylist Trevor Sorbie
  • A ‘scrub’ top signed by the cast of BBC’s Holby City
  • Two tickets to see Ellie Goulding in concert at a London venue


The event has been organised by dedicated CHAI supporter Graziella Kontkowski, who became involved in the cause after her beloved 93-year-old grandmother Caterina Cotrulia contracted C.diff and died in September 2005, after initially having been admitted to hospital for a urinary tract infection.


Since then, she has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the issue and has called for stricter hygiene controls in hospitals to minimise the risk of epidemics of C.diff, which causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration.


Speaking about her involvement with CHAI, Graziella said: “Understanding how these superbugs affect patients and establishing new methods of diagnosis and treatment is absolutely vital, which is why I am supporting the work of CHAI.


”I watched my grandmother suffer terribly after contracting one of these lethal illnesses and through funding this important research we can work toward ensuring that other families do not have to endure the painful loss of a loved one in this way.”


The Centre for Healthcare Associated Infections (CHAI) brings together nine different academic schools at The University of Nottingham, covering a wide range of disciplines, and clinical colleagues at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. 


Current research projects being undertaken at the centre include:



  • Developing new vaccines and antibiotics
  • Rapid, bedside diagnostic tests to identify MRSA, especially the very serious community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) strains
  • Improved detection and identification of strains of C.diff
  • Understanding how C.diff spreads in hospitals


Professor Richard James, Director of CHAI, said: “Researchers in CHAI are pleased that Graziella and Leslie are supporting our fundraising campaign and are grateful for all their hard work in supporting this cause.


“The forthcoming cuts in public expenditure will almost certainly affect universities and there is currently no national charity dedicated to supporting research into these killer infections, so fundraising is a crucial priority for CHAI in order to be able to expand its research programme.”


More information about the work of CHAI can be found online at and anyone wishing to make a donation to the fundraising appeal can contact Steve Vesse on 0115 951 3274 or by e-mail at

The University of Nottingham has a broad research portfolio but has also identified and badged 13 research priority groups, in which a concentration of expertise, collaboration and resources create significant critical mass. Key research areas at Nottingham include energy, drug discovery, global food security, biomedical imaging, advanced manufacturing, integrating global society, operations in a digital world, and science, technology & society.


Through these groups, Nottingham researchers will continue to make a major impact on global challenges.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 39,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

Story credits

More information is available from Graziella Kontkowski on +44 (0)7778 518177, or Professor Richard James on +44 (0)115 846 7952,;

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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