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A tribute to Alan Buckle

The word

20 June 2024

We recently received the sad news that Alan Buckle, long-time clinical trial patient and strong advocate for Velindre, has died.

Alan lived in Cardiff and first came on to a clinical trial with us around 12 years ago. He was running out of standard options for treatment of prostate cancer and his realistic lifespan was months not years. At this point Alan joined the first ever Phase I trial at Velindre which saw him become one of the first in world to get a new drug, which has gone on to become standard of care for prostate cancer.

Alan participated in a further three Phase 1 trials over the next nine years, always keen to support research. In one of these he received an established hormone therapy for prostate cancer (Abiraterone) in combination with an experimental drug, Olaparib. Again, Alan’s participation helped get Olaparib approved as standard of care in prostate cancer.

In total, Alan participated in four clinical trials at Velindre and became a real advocate for research. He spoke at meetings, was involved with Velindre’s charity and in Patient and Public Involvement events and contributed to strategy development.

Alan always felt a special bond with the team on the Phase I unit, saying he felt safe and comfortable with them, and that they had made his life a lot better. Every Christmas he would bring in a couple of cases of wine to show his thanks!

Alan remained full of hope and optimism for the next new treatment, for his own health but also for patients of the future.

Professor Rob Jones Associate Medical Director for RD&I got to know Alan well over the years through the clinical trials he participated in. He said:

“It is people like Alan who really make a difference to cancer care, people who are willing to take a risk so that future patients can benefit. 

"He was a real inspiration to us, always willing to give up his own time to help us promote the clinical trials and research agenda. Alan travelled with us to industry meetings all over the UK and always stole the show with his incredibly impactful speeches. He talked emotionally about the difference research had made to his life, particularly giving him time to spend with his grandchildren and playing his beloved golf!

"He was a great man and he will be sorely missed. It is an honour to have known him.”

As the years went by, Alan became a great supporter of our campaign to have better end of life conversations and talk about interventions like CPR. In fact, his photo was on our poster at a conference in Barcelona in May 2024, on that very topic.

Professor Mark Taubert, Clinical Director and Consultant in Palliative Medicine remembers time spent with Alan advocating for patients making end of life decisions. He said:

“In 2017, the British Medical Journal shortlisted us for an award and Alan volunteered to come to London with me for the ceremony.  Alan had helped us create the TalkCPR videos which caused a stir, as they discussed the sometimes taboo topic of Do Not Attempt CPR towards the end of life, in palliative care settings. 

"At this point, Alan’s cancer was affecting his bones, but he did not let that stop him. On our way to the venue we decided to indulge in a sumptuous lunch at an Italian place that had a special offer on. We got through starters, then a very decent amount of pasta and pizza, some wine, plus a dessert, before proceeding to the BMJ headquarters. Despite the wine, and the high carbohydrate count, we aced the presentations, in front of a stern panel of judges. We came runner-up, which was quite an honour. And two years later, with Alan’s help, we actually won the Royal College of Physicians Excellence in Patient Care Awards for the TalkCPR awareness campaign.

"In a photo as part of a blog Alan co-authored, you’ll see there’s a teaching skeleton that I use for med students. I offered to remove it for the photo, and Alan said 'no, leave it, it will get people talking!'

"Alan was such a brilliant man, and I will really miss him.”

Professor Donna Mead, Chair of the Velindre University NHS Trust Board, and Steve Ham, Chief Executive of the Trust both paid tribute to the wider work Alan did for the cancer centre. She said:

“Alan was a great friend to Velindre, generously giving us his time to provide a patient voice in support of our services.

"Away from his treatment and clinical trials, Alan shared his ideas and experience at Patient and Public Involvement events and supported our fundraising charity, always with a focus on making a difference for future patients. If you walk around the cancer centre today you will see Alan in photos and on posters as the face of the patient, an enduring reminder of the willingness he showed to get involved with all things Velindre.

"The impact Alan had on our research and care is immeasurable. He will always be part of the Velindre story and will be sadly missed.”

Nick Buckle, Alan’s son wanted to thank Velindre for the care his Dad received. He said:

“After more than 20 years fighting his cancer Dad was very accepting of his condition and we were lucky to be able to spend a few days talking before he passed away.

"He always spoke enthusiastically about the care you gave him, the work Velindre is doing and the plans for the future. Dad called the trials unit his hope factory as the work they did every day gave him hope he could spend more time with his grandchildren. Through his trials he helped some treatment become reality and that is now giving hope to others – a nice legacy for Dad.

"Personally, I would like to say thank you too, we are going to miss him immensely but recognise without the trials, the monitoring and constant support we would not have had as much time as we had.

"Thank you all once again, from me, the family and of course Dad.”

A true supporter to the end, Alan’s family are asking for donations to Velindre’s charity as part of his funeral today – a memorial fund has been established at

We send our heartfelt condolences to the family from everyone at Velindre Cancer Centre who had the privilege to care for and know Alan.

Alan leaves a legacy of improved cancer treatment and stronger patient voice in end of life care that will continue to make a difference for years to come.

Rest in peace, Alan.

Velindre University NHS Trust, Unit 2,Charnwood Court, Parc Nantgarw, Nantgarw, Cardiff, CF15 7QZ
Tel: 029 2019 6161