Appeal nearing half a million!

Joseph Bulmer

GENEROUS people in North Devon have pledged nearly half-a-million-pounds towards a new chemotherapy unit at North Devon District Hospital.

In a little over two months, the campaign – backed from the word go by the North Devon Gazette – has reached more than �400,000 in pledges and donations. It is nearly a quarter of the way towards its �2.2million target – and the phenomenal response is still gathering pace.

The total so far includes �250,000 donated by the North Devon Cancer Care Centre Trust.

And all over North Devon, readers have been busy organising events and pledging donations to help make a real difference to the lives of nearly 5,000 local cancer patients who use the existing service every year.

The appeal has won the backing of events big and small, with open gardens, coffee mornings and skittles competitions all helping to do their bit alongside larger events including the West Buckland Festival and an annual tournament at Saunton Sands Golf Club.

On Monday night, TV’s Top Gear presenter James May, in Barnstaple this week to film a spin-off to his 2009 Toy Stories series, pledged his support to the appeal. “It’s a worthwhile campaign and I’m happy to support it,” said Mr May, who made a donation himself.

Ian Roome, fund-raising manager for the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Charitable Fund, said he was delighted that the appeal had been backed by such a high-profile celebrity.

“James and the people of North Devon are really getting behind the campaign and we’ve been really touched by some of the donations we’ve received,” he said.

“It’s not just about today; it’s about the future and leaving a legacy for cancer patients and their families for generations to come.

“A purpose-built stand-alone chemotherapy unit will have a massive impact on so many people’s lives and a lot has happened in the last two months to help make it a reality.

“Latest statistics suggest that one in two people will need cancer services at some point in otheir lives. The current centre sees an average of up to 22 diagnosed patients every day and although the nurses and medical staff do a fantastic job, the building is not ideal for supporting people suffering from many different forms of cancer.

“The enhanced surroundings will allow patients to be with their loved ones when they are receiving chemotherapy and help to improve recovery rates.”

Mr Roome said interest in the campaign has exceeded all expectations but there was still much work to be done.

“We’ve had lots of pledges and donations and have raised a fantastic amount of money in a short time, but we’ve still got a long, long way to go,” he said.

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