Charity blames Diana for slump in fortunes

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The Independent Online
The Princess of Wales was yesterday accused of abandoning the cause of 350,000 brain-injured Britons in order to champion the "overblown" plight of Aids patients. The charity Headway, of which the princess is former patron, said it was "bitterly disappointed" that she preferred to campaign against Aids rather than the wider problem of serious head injuries.

Ian Garrow, the charity's chief executive, said: "We have been laid aside as one of the charities no longer under her patronage and yet she has kept Aids on board, which is an overblown thing which is already given money by government.

"The numbers are insignificant compared to the numbers of head-injured and brain-damaged, and we have still to get money from the government or national lottery. Yet we see the princess doing all these things on behalf of the Aids charity and we feel bitterly disappointed that we were one of those chosen to be abandoned." Last July, the princess severed her links with Headway and 100 other charities to concentrate on six causes, including the National Aids Trust.

By becoming Headway patron in 1991, she put the spotlight on the increasing numbers of people who survive head injuries from road, sports and work accidents. She chose the Headway Christmas luncheon to announce her "retirement" from public life in 1993, and the previous year used the event to make her first public appearance after the announcement of her separation from Prince Charles.

Her association with the lunch put it on the social calendar, attracting a queue of sponsors.

But without the princess, the cause of Britain's brain- and head-injured has gone out of fashion. The lunch is Headway's major fundraiser, but last Christmas income fell by more than half, from pounds 30,000 to pounds 13,000 as attendance fell from 450 to 260. A spokesman for the National Aids Trust said the princess did far more for the charity than help to raise money for people with HIV. She had also helped to break down the stigma surrounding the virus. In Britain, 28,447 people have been diagnosed with HIV and 13,720 have Aids, of which 9,000 have died.

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