About Sparks

Children deserve the best possible healthcare. While healthcare has improved dramatically in the last 50 years, there are still no treatments or cures for many children with rare and complex conditions. The only way we can help them is through research.

Sparks was set up by football legend Jimmy Hill and cricketer Jim Laker, who were grateful for their health and their children’s health. They wanted all children to have the same good start in life, so encouraged their sporting network to raise money for child health research.

Sparks was an acronym for ‘Sports People Aiding Research for Kids’ and much of Sparks’ fundraising has historically revolved around sport.

Since 1991, Sparks has funded over £30 million of research into over 80 childhood conditions. These include childhood cancers, epilepsy, spina bifida, Crohn’s disease, Down’s syndrome, Krabbe disease, cerebral palsy and the risks associated with premature birth.

Sparks has a strong reputation in the child health research community and has supported over 90 research institutions across the UK. Between 2015 and 2018, the charity funded research into conditions that affected 20,000 children in the UK each year.

Child health research is severely underfunded – just 5% of what the public and charities spend on research, funds medical research for children. Sparks don’t receive any government funding so are completely dependent on the donations and fundraising efforts of our generous supporters.

Through the Sparks - No Time to Lose campaign, Sparks aims to raise £10million over the next four years to help find the treatments children with a rare condition urgently need.

One in three children with a rare condition won’t live to celebrate their fifth birthday. Our child health research can save their lives. For critically ill children, there’s no time to lose.

Our partnership with GOSH Charity

Sparks joined Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity) in January 2017, in a partnership aimed at increasing funding for life-changing child health research. We fund research together, but our history, supporters, fundraising and priorities remain independent. Behind the scenes, we share resources to keep our costs to a minimum and increase the amount of research we can fund.

Sparks funds child health research across the UK, whereas GOSH Charity supports the Great Ormond Street Hospital, research based at the hospital and research across the UK.

The Sparks Annual Report is available to read and can be accessed by clicking here.


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