Property developer who died of cancer leaves £1.8m to Guy’s Hospital

A property developer who died of bladder cancer aged 58 donated almost £1.8 million to help doctors find a better treatment for the disease.

Guy’s hospital received the donation in memory of Graham Roberts, from Belgravia, who died last July, 20 months after being diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Mr Roberts, finance director at British Land before founding healthcare property firm Assura plc, was diagnosed with the cancer in December 2015, aged 56. He had never smoked and lived an active and healthy life.

His widow Dianne said: “He was a very kind and generous person anyway. That was his normal outlook on life. He was predisposed to helping others and to encouraging young people, which is also what part of our donation is doing.”


Donations are being made in Graham’s memory.

The disease is diagnosed in about 10,500 Britons a year, making it the eighth most common cancer, and kills 5,500 a year. Smoking is a key factor and there has been a 40 per cent drop in incidence since the Nineties. 

Despite only half of patients surviving for 10 years after diagnosis, there have been virtually no advances in treatment for more than three decades.

The donation of £1.79 million over five years is to the Translational Oncology and Urology Research team at King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. It will enable a bladder cancer biobank to be established — holding blood, urine and tissue samples from patients before and after treatment at Guy’s Cancer Centre — fund a research fellowship and increase the number of patients able to participate in clinical trials. 


Graham, who died in July 2016, and Dianne Roberts.

Mrs Roberts said that bladder cancer was starved of research funds: “For every breast cancer patient, the amount of research per head is £1,400 a year. A prostate cancer patient is £490. Bladder cancer is £20.

“When Graham found out that his cancer had spread and that the original treatment — the ‘gold standard treatment’ — didn’t work, he thought: what could we do to help people in the future? We knew this wasn’t going to help Graham.”

His bladder was removed and he was given the chemotherapy drugs Cisplatin and Gemcitabine, but they failed to halt the spread of the disease and resulted in debilitating side effects.

Dr Simon Chowdhury, who specialises in advanced urological cancers and who treated Mr Roberts, said the donation was of such magnitude that it had the potential to lead to a breakthrough of international significance.

“Dianne and her late husband  Graham, they are just incredible people,” he said. “They saw that bladder cancer is lagging behind other cancers and wanted to change that with research. We can be a world-leading centre for bladder cancer research thanks to this donation.”

To support cancer care at Guy’s, visit

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