Hilary Craft obituary

Other Lives: Charity fundraiser who helped to raise millions for cancer research in the UK

My wife and business partner, Hilary Craft, who has died aged 63 of cancer, was a prolific charity fundraiser, for which she was appointed OBE in 2019.

Hilary was born in Prestwich in Greater Manchester, and she lived her whole life in the area. Her parents, Lily (nee Ashe) and Jack Leibovitch, had a workwear manufacturing company for which Hilary worked after leaving King David high school in Manchester in 1974.

The two of us met at a Jewish youth club, when she was 13 and I was 15. We married in 1975 when Hilary was 18, and she stayed working with her parents’ company until we established our own firm in 1991, Regency Factors, which specialises in factoring.

Away from work, Hilary focused her energies into raising £390,000 for the Central Manchester and Children’s Hospital Charity, which used the money to provide life-saving equipment for her local hospital, Manchester Royal Infirmary. Then in 2011 she established her own charity, Action Against Cancer, which finances cancer research.

By then she had lived with cancer for a decade, bearing the burden with grace, humour and without complaint for a total of 22 years until her death. She often said that going through cancer helped to sharpen her determination to raise more money, and she achieved some incredible results.

Since its creation, Action Against Cancer has raised more than £12m, in large part to Hilary’s unwavering commitment and day-to-day management. The funds have been well spent by scientists at Imperial College London, Sussex University and Manchester University, and have resulted in better diagnostics and treatments for cancer patients.

Hilary would also regularly phone individual supporters to talk to them about their own experience of cancer, and to reassure and comfort them. She shared what worked for her, which was to take things “a day at a time”.

She is survived by me, our son, Jonathan, two grandchildren, Harry and Eva-Lily, and her sister Joyce.

Maurice Craft

The GuardianTramp

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