Crohn’s & Colitis UK turns 40!

17 November 2019

From a humble beginning in a bedroom in St Albans, we’re now the largest charity in Europe for everyone affected by Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

How it all began

Founded in 1979 by the Annetts family, Crohn’s & Colitis UK is now the leading UK charity for those living with Crohn's and Colitis.

But back in the autumn of 1978 Robert and Patricia Annetts had many questions when their daughter Deborah was eventually diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. They struggled to understand the disease and felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness and ignorance.

As practical people looking for answers, they formed the National Association of Colitis and Crohn’s Disease (NACC, now known as Crohn’s & Colitis UK). Their vision was to raise funds, find a cure and create a support network for people living with Crohn’s and Colitis, and their families.  

With the expert support of Professor John Lennard Jones, a leading gastroenterologist, the inaugural meeting of NACC took place on 17 November 1979. The steering group included healthcare professionals from the Gastroenterology team at St. Marks Hospital, the Ileostomy Association and people living with the conditions. 40 years on from that first meeting, Crohn’s & Colitis UK has gone from strength to strength.  

Where we are now?

Today we support hundreds of thousands of people across the UK – driving world-class research, raising awareness, empowering people to live well with the conditions, calling for high quality care across the UK and pushing for early and accurate diagnosis for all.  

People affected by the conditions no longer have to face a diagnosis alone – they’re given information packs in hospitals, can join our community of over 45,000 members, connect with one of the 50 local networks across the UK, access high quality information and call our helplines for emotional support. And they have the hope that, together with scientists and healthcare professionals we’re building a world free from Crohn’s and Colitis.  


It’s incredible to see just how far the charity has come in the last 40 years. The determination of the Annetts family and others has helped hundreds of thousands of people over the years. As the largest charity in Europe for people with Crohn’s and Colitis we have gone from strength to strength, and I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together in the next 40 years.

Sarah Sleet,
CEO, Crohn's & Colitis UK

Want to celebrate?

It’s not too late to get involved and celebrate with us - we’re continuing the 40th birthday party celebrations into Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week on 1-7 December. You can help raise awareness and fundraise for us – just download your free awareness week pack. Thanks to everyone for all your support over the years and have fun celebrating! 

Check out Awareness Week activities