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Polio memories

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Historical polio image from Action


Protecting children through medical research

For almost 70 years, we've funded medical research which has saved and transformed the lives of children, developing treatments, vaccinations and cures. We have helped to beat polio, fight meningitis, prevent stillbirths and develop ultrasound scanning in pregnancy. 

With your support, we can continue funding medical research for babies and children long into the future. To tackle the next crisis, whenever that appears. 

A gift in your will could unlock a future medical breakthrough, hold the key to a cure or treatment for a childhood illness, or simply make day-to-day life easier for children suffering illness or living with a disability.

Keeping children safe

We began funding medical research for children nearly 70 years ago in response to the outbreak of a terrible disease – polio.

Schools, churches, cinemas closed. Parents were scared for their children to go outside. It was one of the most feared diseases in the world.

Action was instrumental in developing the first vaccines for polio in the UK, which have kept millions of children safe from this deadly virus ever since.

Today, medical research is helping to beat COVID-19 but there’s a lack of research specifically focussing on children and how the virus affects them. We’re funding five new research projects into COVID-19 and children. 

Unlike most health charities, we don't focus on one particular disease.This gives us the flexibility to respond to serious health needs as they emerge and to fund important developments in areas as diverse as premature birth, heart disease and brain cancer.

Many people who use our free will offers decide to leave a percentage to Action Medical Research, although we know that your loved ones will always come first.

Children depend on Action Medical Research. We depend on you. 

My parents were lovely people, and it makes me very proud that they gave a donation in their wills to support the invaluable work of Action Medical Research

Jeremy, whose parents both left a gift to Action in their wills

Frequently asked questions

Why are you paying for wills?

We are paying for your will as this helps to increase our income from gifts in wills by removing the cost for our supporters.

Do I have to leave money in my will to the charity to use the free will offer?

No, there is no obligation to leave any money to Action Medical Research for using the free will offer, although many people kindly do.

What about COVID-19 restrictions?

Solicitors have also put in measures in place to prepare your will safely, such as taking instructions over the telephone or via a video call. You will be given details on how to have your signature witnessed while maintaining social distancing.

How do I get in touch with a solicitor?

If you are using the National Free Wills Network offer, you will be sent a pack in the post containing the list of solicitors that are nearest to you. You can get in touch with any of the solicitors on the list to make an appointment.

Are any types of will excluded from the offer?

We can only pay for simple wills, which can be single or couple (mirror) wills. We are unable to pay for more complicated wills (for example, if you own property abroad).

Does the offer cover the whole of the UK?

You must live in England or Wales to use the Farewill online will writing offer.

You must live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland to use the local solicitor offer (National Free Wills Network). This offer does not over the Isle of Man.

What is the history of the charity?

We have had a few name changes over the years, and we are probably best known as Action for the Crippled Child. We were founded in 1952 as The National Fund for Poliomyelitis Research. In 1960, we expanded our remit to become The National Fund for Research into Poliomyelitis and Other Crippling Diseases, also known as the Polio Research Fund. In 1967, our name changed to The National Fund for Research into Crippling Diseases (also known informally as Action for the Crippled Child and Action Research for the Crippled Child – ARCC). From 1990 to 2002, we were called Action Research, and then in 2002 we became Action Medical Research. Throughout our history we have focussed on saving and changing children’s lives through medical research, and that mission continues today.

Can I see more details on how you spend your money?

Yes, you might like to take a look at our Research Review which is published annually and includes details on our latest research and summarised financial statements.