Halfway point for Worcestershire breast cancer appeal

Malvern Gazette: CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION: Hospital fund-raising manager Katie Farmer, campaign director Geoff Howard and Nicky Underwood, campaign administrator, uncork the champagne for the breast unit campaign’s milestone. Picture by Paul Jackson. (0213219305) Buy this photo » CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION: Hospital fund-raising manager Katie Farmer, campaign director Geoff Howard and Nicky Underwood, campaign administrator, uncork the champagne for the breast unit campaign’s milestone. Picture by Paul Jackson. (0213219305)

A DREAM is closer to coming true after a campaign to create a new breast unit in Worcester raised more than half the cash.

The Worcestershire Breast Unit Campaign has now raised £905,171 towards the £1.8 million needed to create the new unit at 220 Newtown Road, near Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Leaders of the campaign, supported by your Worcester News since it began more than three years ago, believe the milestone will now make it far easier to attract grants to help make the unit a reality.

Campaign director Geoff Howard said: “The support from the community in Worcestershire has been fantastic and continues to grow. Now we have reached the important halfway point we are able to go out to the national grant-making trusts and foundations. Such funders are reluctant to come on board in the early days, but are likely to be encouraged to support the campaign given this groundswell of local support.”

The joint services review into the future of NHS services across hospitals, which some fear could stall the new unit, has failed to dampen enthusiasm for the campaign. The charity seeks to create a one-stop shop for all breast patients across Worcestershire to improve not only their chances of survival and recovery, but their experience as patients.

Clinics would be based under one roof and the rooms have been designed with input from patients.

At the moment clinics are spread out throughout the main hospital, often over different floors and in sometimes cramped conditions, making the experience less comfortable and pleasant for patients.

Mr Howard said he wanted to see work start on creating the breast unit by the end of the year and believes it will be easier to raise the second half of the money than the first.

He said: “Now the campaign commands that credibility. It’s not just pie in the sky but cake on the table. I think 2013 is going to see quantum progress.”

Mr Howard said the evidence of the generosity of the people of Worcestershire was clear for all to see and it was all the more remarkable in that it had come during the worst recession in modern times.

Patient and fund-raiser Cherry Robinson, aged 68, of Osier Close, off Bath Road, Worcester, chairman of the Worcester Breast Cancer Support Group, welcomed the milestone. Mrs Robinson was one of the original calendar girls who launched the campaign in October 2009.

Mrs Robinson, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997 and in September 2008 has also battled secondary cancers more recently and is to undergo chemotherapy within the next two weeks.

She said she hoped things would now ‘move ahead’ for the campaign and that the joint services review would not hold up the unit.

She said: “It’s people’s money so they have got to do it. I’m really pleased we have got to the halfway mark and it spurs people on to do more. I feel all right and I’m determined to see this new unit finished.”

The Worcester Cancer Support Group has pledged £18,000 to the Jackie Heal Room in honour and memory of a popular breast care nurse. The room would allow patients to be told any bad news in as much comfort and with as much sensitivity as possible. The group is now raising money for a prosthesis room within the unit. But the group is just one of the many which have made the milestone possible.

Figures from the campaign show that the money has come from community groups (£217,807), private individual events (£206,486), private individual donations (£159,937) and business events (£155,529). The rest of the cash came from merchandising (calendars, bags and badges), local trusts, national trusts, private individuals’ in memoriam gifts, business gifts and business sponsorship

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