Sparks - UK

ALMT Burns Night fundraising partnership

'The support of the ALMT helped facilitate a genetic, environmental and pregnancy-related risk factors study of clubfoot.'
John Shanley - Cheif Executive, Sparks
Sparks fund medical research which advances clinical understanding and treatment of conditions affecting babies, children and mums-to-be.

Years: 2008

Sparks is a small charity with a huge mission – for all babies to be born healthy and stay healthy. They were founded by sports personalities who believed that all children should be able to share the joy of simply running a race or kicking a ball. The ALMT was impressed by Sparks because they are motivated by the knowledge that we all have the power to change lives. Also Sparks, like the ALMT, are not a single cause charity. They fund research across the whole spectrum of paediatric medicine, including childhood cancer, childhood arthritis, meningitis, club foot, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and all the risks associated with premature birth. Sparks has already committed over £14.5 million to finance more than 180 medical research projects into conditions affecting babies and children.


At the 2007 Angus Lawson Burns Night Supper Sparks was the benefitiary of the evening.


All the money raised for Sparks from the Burns Night Supper went towards funding clubfoot research. Clubfoot affects more than 1,000 babies born in the UK each year and Sparks’ researchers in Aberdeen are leading the world’s biggest study into this condition.


Clubfoot (congential talipes equinovarus) is an inborn lower leg problem of uncertain causes that results in a child being unable to place the sole of its foot or feet flat on the ground. Clubfoot can be treated immediately from birth; this normally involves multiple plaster casts and physiotherapy. This can take years and can include numerous operations. 80% of children with clubfoot may need surgery 4-9 months after birth. Surgery can lead to scarring and stiffness but without surgery some children may not be able to walk at all.


Researchers are investigating the role of a gene that causes clubfoot and they believe they have managed to identify this gene that robs so many children of a fully active life. With this breakthrough they can work towards preventing other babies being born with clubfoot.


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