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Family raises funds for cancer care

Thursday, 28 March, 2019

More than £2,000 has been raised to improve patients’ experiences at the oncology day unit at Wansbeck General Hospital.

A coffee morning was organised at Cramlington Masonic Hall by Helen Borthwick, with the help of her husband Ewan and her two stepsons Connor (17) and Thomas (14), to raise funds as a way of saying thank you to the unit. The boys’ mother, Anne Smith, was treated on the unit for the past four years before sadly passing away in April last year.

Helen, from Cramlington, said: “Coffee mornings probably aren’t the most exciting thing for two teenage boys but this was actually their idea as it is something very close to their heart and they really got involved with it.

“I have been absolutely blown away by the generosity of everyone. There was a real community spirit on the day. I didn’t think we would raise as much money as we did but there was such an amazing turn-out – there was even a queue out of the door at one point!

“I have had a number of friends who have been treated at the oncology day unit and I am eternally grateful for the kindness they have always been shown by the staff. This fundraising is the least we could do.”

Helen, who has organised a number of Macmillan coffee mornings previously, put together a tombola, raffle and refreshments thanks to donations by local businesses and family and friends. Asda Cramlington donated the refreshments and Jackie Burt, a community support staff member, helped on the day.

The family, including Anne’s parents Vee and Tom Pilkington, presented the cheque to the oncology unit manager Gillian Thorne.

Gillian said: “We are very grateful to Helen, the family and everyone who helped with the fundraising and gave so generously. Anne attended our unit for several years and will be greatly missed by our staff.

“We will ensure that the donation is put to the best possible use and are hoping the money will go towards providing ‘top to toe’ therapeutic treatments including hair loss provisions and screen dividers to provide greater privacy.”

The unit is one of a number of specialist cancer services run by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust across Northumberland and North Tyneside.