Skip to content

Pioneering research into wound healing continues thanks to Bradford community appeal


The positive legacy of the Bradford Fire will live on as the Plastic Surgery and Burns Research Unit celebrate reaching its momentous £300,000 fundraising target.

The unit based at the University of Bradford, was created by Professor Sharpe and the late Professor Terry Baker following the disaster on May 11 where 56 lives were lost and over 250 patients were treated. Its aim is to undertake research projects to improve future healthcare for patients affected by such disasters.

To mark the 30th anniversary, the Bradford City Football Club, Bradford City FC Supporters Board along with the Plastic Surgery and Burns Research Unit (PSBRU) launched an appeal to raise £300,000 for the PSBRU in the 30th year. These funds would support a dedicated research fellow and enable ground-breaking research to take place in wound healing.

Support for the appeal has come flooding in not only from the people of Bradford but from across the world. There was national support from the Premier League, Football Association, Football League, Scottish FA, and individual football clubs across the country and their supporters. It couldn’t have started with a better boost than a £25,000 cheque from the Premier league and a 2-4 win against Chelsea on the same day!

There have been over 250 events and fundraising initiatives, tens of thousands of individual donations and collections in pubs and businesses as well as at Valley Parade. Endurance events have been sponsored by families and friends, fairs and special events organised and Bradford school pupils have made a magnificent contribution.

Fans have let their imagination run wild and raised funds from various activities that ranged from selling souvenir seat backs to designer scarves, flat caps and hoodies. Physical challenges such as doing the three peaks, playing football, golf, cycling, trekking and even lifting plenty of heavy pints in various pubs, have all contributed to it. There have been artistic ventures such as singing, painting, photography and people have gone colourful at the claret and amber days. The stage documentary ‘The 56’, paid homage to those who lost their lives in the disaster. The public have had us in their thoughts on not only joyous occasions such as carnivals, charity dinners and weddings but also on sombre occasions such as funerals.

The momentous year was rounded off at the last league game of the season for Bradford City FC, where over £5000 was raised.

Today the PSBRU is led by Mr Ajay L Mahajan, Consultant Plastic Surgeon, who along with his collaborators and research fellows, carries out research to look at various ways in which wound healing and scarring can be improved to deliver the best possible outcome for our patients. The PSBRU has had 26 research fellows over the years most of whom are established Consultants in the various parts of the UK.

Mr Ajay L Mahajan, Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Director of PSBRU said: “Now that the 30th anniversary has come to a close, I am very pleased to see that we have crossed our set target of £300k. Our unit is very unique in the sense that it was established by the fans, continues to be supported by the fans and is something that the people of Bradford can be very proud of. I cannot thank each and every one of you enough for your tremendous support in making this fundraising campaign ‘ours’.

“Together, we have secured the future of the unit for some more years to come. With the aid of these funds we have already established links with the Regional Burns unit in Pinderfields and appointed a research fellow to do research in the field of burns. We are looking forward to appoint more such research fellows in the near future. These doctors will go on to produce valuable scientific work and will evolve into plastic surgeons of the future.”

Alan Carling, Chair, Remembrance Panel, Bradford City FC Supporters Board added: "I would like to thank everyone whose extraordinary contributions have enabled the Appeal to pass the target of £300k. This combined effort has secured the future of the Burns Unit for years to come as a lasting memorial to all those who suffered on May 11 1985, and as a fitting testament of hope arising out of tragedy.

Professor Des Tobin, Director of the Centre for Skin Sciences at the University of Bradford concluded: "The University of Bradford's Centre for Skin Science and its associated Plastic Surgery & Burns Research Unit (PSBRU) remain a most positive and enduring legacy of our city's devastating fire 31 years ago. We are truly humbled by the generosity of the city in raising a phenomenal £300K during our latest appeal to support our research into wound healing. This remarkable contribution represents a life-line to enable continued technological advances aimed at improving the outcomes for wounded patients".

Jing Qin Tay, David Sharpe Research Fellow, said: “It has been a memorable year for the Plastic Surgery and Burns Research Unit as we step into the thirtieth anniversary since its establishment.

“Being the David Sharpe Fellow, I have the opportunities to meet with a lot of amazing people that have helped the burns unit along the way. I hope that the donation that we have received will go a long way in honouring the memory of the '56', and the family of those that are directly or indirectly affected by the fire tragedy.”

Anyone who wishes to donate to the is still able to do so, please visit for more information.

Back to news from 2016