James McLaughlin

Cure Leukaemia’s chief executive James McLaughlin reflects on his transfer from professional sport to an equally competitive sector as he celebrates his tenth anniversary as an adopted Brummie 


I come from a sports business background and spent four years as head of retail at Southampton FC. After an 18-month spell in Holland as Nike’s product manager for football equipment, I enjoyed two years as commercial manager at Watford, overseeing Sir Elton John’s first concert at Vicarage Road for more than 30 years. I moved to Birmingham in July 2006 after being appointed commercial director at Edgbaston Stadium. During my six years at Warwickshire CCC, I was invited onto Cure Leukaemia’s board of trustees.


I joined Cure Leukaemia as CEO in April 2012. Some people thought I’d retired when they heard I’d moved into the charity sector! It’s actually as competitive as the sports world because there are so many great causes operating in the city. I joined Cure Leukaemia as I believed my skillset was transferrable. Our focus has been on making the charity nimble and creative to ensure our story resonates with potential supporters and fund-raisers. Cure Leukaemia funds a Midlands-wide network of specialist research nurses who deliver potentially lifesaving treatments to blood cancer patients who have exhausted standard treatment options.


The building of a new £3million haematology centre at the QE – our current fund-raising focus – that further establishes the city’s reputation as a world-leader in life sciences. Led by Professor Charlie Craddock CBE and his team, Birmingham is leading the fight, internationally, against blood cancer and the new centre would give more patients access to world first clinical trials. Generally, Birmingham needs to shout about itself more. The ongoing transformation of the city while I’ve lived here has been breathtaking.


We’re only a small team of five, so taking on two big fund-raising cycling events last year – London 2 Paris and Le Tour – One Day Ahead – was a huge achievement. Becoming Brindleyplace’s official charity was also huge for us as it has helped introduce Cure Leukaemia to many new businesses across the region. We’ve seen incredible growth in recent years and our fund-raising income was £1.5million in 2015. There are opportunities for that figure to increase substantially.


Not to ride a bike for 300 miles without any training! My aching limbs aside, being one of more than 200 cyclists arriving in Paris, raising more than £300,000 in the process, was very special.


The people. From the moment I moved to Birmingham, I’ve been made to feel very welcome. The business community is also fantastic. It’s a great network to be involved in.


I enjoy going back down to Edgbaston as a supporter and spending time with family and friends. At the age of 42, I try to combat the occasional Guinness and visit to the city’s curry houses by running along the canals and attending the gym.


Cure Leukaemia is hosting a special event Glynn Purnell & Friends’ Friday Night Kitchen at Villa Park’s Holte Suite on 7 October. For more details visit www.gpfnk.co.uk