CLEFT expanded

2021 was a particularly exciting year for CLEFT. In July CLEFT became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and a national charity.

The CIO was launched with a week of online events which included interviews and presentations from leading clinicians, CLEFT volunteers and CLEFT supporters. The number of trustees was increased to include professionals from all over the UK and the charity’s focus on its two arms of Research and International Projects was further embedded. 

CLEFT's charitable work

In spite of difficulties in travel, much good work has nonetheless been done. We have learnt about the value of remote meetings and have had regular Zoom meetings with the team in Dhaka.  They have used their own lockdown periods to carry out some important research into craniofacial clefts. Our chairman, Brian Sommerlad, visited the team in Sulaimania in Kurdish Iraq in November. There are exciting possibilities for the development of a new cleft and craniofacial centre, working with Kurdistan Save the Children. This would be a first in Iraq. We have also used this quiet period to plan for 2022 and there are some new projects in the pipeline in Nepal, Sierra Leone and Mozambique. We are receiving many requests for help from surgeons and others from around the world. The International Steering Committee will be considering these requests and advising the trustees about how to proceed. We hope that some of our partners from overseas will be able, with our help, to participate in the International Cleft Congress in Edinburgh in July 2022 and combine this with some visits to UK centres.

With regards to our research work in the UK, work has slowed right down. Health care professionals across the UK have had to refocus their time and energy and priorities have shifted to cope with the ever-changing landscape that Covid has brought along. The new Research Steering Committee has brought together cleft professionals from across all the disciplines around the UK however, and new research is currently being considered. Research is expensive to fund but we continue to aspire to crack the cleft puzzle and will continue to invest in research as much as we can in the coming year.

Social media

Our fundraising and social media officer, Alexa Ambor, worked with a small team to create a thriving social media presence for CLEFT and the numbers of followers increased for CLEFT’s Facebook, Twitter & Instagram accounts. A Social Media group met regularly before the CIO launch to provide the rich and fascinating online programme.

The website also saw improvements in 2021. For example, content on the homepage was expanded, a new student section was created as well as new areas for trustees and the various committees.

Fundraising committee

In March 2021 a new committee was created to help raise the profile of CLEFT, to support regular fundraising events and to generate new ideas for events. Members of the fundraising committee raised substantial sums during the year and participated in nearly all events, online or ‘in person’! Future fundraising ideas for 2022 include a concert and a black-tie event.

Student section

The student section went from strength to strength in 2021 and organised a wide range of events all over the country for CLEFT.


They are an inspiration to all of us and we look forward to seeing even more fundraising in 2022!

Fundraising facts from 2021

The top four most successful events in 2021 (i.e., which raised the most money!) were:
1 – Thorndon Park Golf Day (£6,996)
2 – Royal Parks Half Marathon (£4,880)
3 – CLEFT’s 14th birthday (£2,453 – a combination of the totals raised by individuals)
4 – Celebrity Online Quiz (£1,147)

2022 events - the future!

We hope that as 2022 progresses ‘in person’ events can once more be organised with confidence.  We have places in a number of running and cycling races. These include: the Great North Run, The Bristol Half Marathon, London to Brighton Cycle Ride, Ride London and the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Why not consider signing up and getting fit while raising money for CLEFT?