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BG Energy Challenge to fund second Sparks project

BG Energy Challenge to fund second Sparks project

BG Group, host of the BG Energy Challenge – UK, has announced that the second Sparks project to be supported by funds raised at this year’s event will be research into “Hypothermia and Xenon protecting the newborn brain” based at St Michael’s Hospital, Bristol. With a record number of teams expected on the start line in Bangor, Wales on 9 July, participants are hopeful of raising more than last year’s total of £190,000 which will be split between event charities Sparks and CARE International.

The research project, being led by Professor Marianne Thoresen, has to date perfected different cooling techniques which reduce a baby’s normal body temperature to 33.5°C over three days, with the result that many newborns are saved from lifelong disabilities. Sparks, with help from money raised at the BG Energy Challenge, is now funding further research into whether the combination of body cooling and breathing Xenon gas (an inert non-toxic gas found in nature, which has known anaesthetic and sedative properties) is more effective in preventing brain injuries in babies than either of these treatments utilised independently.

The project is already closely supported by BG Group employee Jon Furniss whose daughter Eva sadly died of oxygen deprivation at birth. Jon, alongside brother-in-law and Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell, has been tirelessly fundraising since Eva’s death in May 2008 raising awareness of the project for Sparks.

James Cracknell said: “Sadly, cooling could not help in Eva’s case, but the research pioneered by Sparks is saving one baby in six who would otherwise have died or suffered severe brain damage. On behalf of our family and Sparks we’re delighted that BG Group and the BG Energy Challenge have chosen to support this project and help further research that will improve those figures even more.”

A second Sparks project investigating the possible causes of Clubfoot based at Aberdeen University will also benefit from funds raised by the participants of the BG Energy Challenge. Over the past two years, BG Group has been the principal source of funding for this project donating nearly £100,000 and during this time researchers have made significant developments in their goal to identify the causes of Clubfoot.


Notes to Editors:

About BG Group

BG Group plc (LSE: BG.L) is a world leader in natural gas, with a strategy focused on connecting competitively-priced resources to specific, high-value markets. Active in 27 countries on five continents, BG Group has a broad portfolio of exploration and production, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), transmission and distribution and power generation business interests. BG Group seeks to support social and economic development in the communities where it does business by providing structured funding for community initiatives that match its skills transfer theme. For more information, visit

BG Group’s sponsorship portfolio is called Energy for life. The BG Energy Challenge series is one of two sponsorships that make up the Energy for life portfolio. For further information visit

About Sparks

Sparks is unique. It isn’t a single cause charity. Sparks is the only charity to fund cutting edge research across the whole spectrum of paediatric medicine. Working with doctors and scientists at leading universities and teaching hospitals across the UK, Sparks research work encompasses childhood cancers, childhood arthritis, meningitis, spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, the risks associated with premature birth and many other conditions affecting babies and children in the early years of life. Sparks has already committed over £16.7 million to fund more than 196 research projects with the aim of giving more children the best of all starts in life…a healthy one. For more information about Sparks, visit


Anna Grainger / brandRapport

01483 209841


Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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