Cancer support centre opened
A 92-year-old who has been raising money for a cancer charity for almost 40 years officially opened a hospital support and information centre yesterday.
Kathleen Davies, of Ashby, began collecting for Macmillan Cancer Support – then called Cancer Relief – in 1973, two years after her husband Norman died from prostate cancer.
She founded the charity's Ashby and District fund-raising committee, which has so far raised more than £200,000.
Mrs Davies, who still helps out on the charity flag days, said: "This information centre is wonderful. It will help a lot of people.
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"It as an honour to be asked to open it."
The Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre, in the Osborne Building at Leicester Royal Infirmary, has a drop-in area and quiet room as well as office space.
Richard Moody, Macmillan patient information officer, said: "The centre provides an ideal environment for anyone with questions about cancer.
"When people drop in, it can be anything from picking up some leaflets to us sitting down together and working through very complex issues.
"We are here for everyone – patients, carers, relatives and friends.
"The centre also allows us to increase our range of services, such as a weekly benefits clinic."
Among the guests at the opening was Sue Stevenson, from Oadby, whose son Paul was 19 when he died from a rare cancer in November 2004.
She said: "A place such as this would have made such a difference to Paul and to us.
"There was nothing in the way of support for adolescents and families when he was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2003.
"Everything was focused on the clinical treatment but young people need someone who understands."
The family set up the Paul Stevenson Memorial Fund on what would have been his 21st birthday – March 13, 2006.
Sue, 53, said: "The idea was to raise £132,000 in three years to set up provision of a Macmillan cancer nurse specialist to give support. We thought it would be a fitting tribute to Paul.
"We raised the money in two years, but with something like this it is difficult to stop and we have carried on fund-raising."
To date, about £203,000 has been raised for Macmillan Cancer Support by the fund.
Sue said: "This centre will make a difference to everyone affected by cancer.
"When Paul was being treated, there was a tiny area in reception but there was nowhere for us to go and no one here we could have spoken to.
"We really did feel as if we were having to struggle on alone. The information now is amazing and will make a big difference to patients and their families."
Macmillan Cancer Support has paid £300,000 of the £352,000 cost of the centre with the remainder from University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.
It is open Monday to Friday, 9.30am until 4.30pm.