Chemo plans taking shape

Joseph Bulmer

Appeal tops �600k as hospital chief predicts an exciting year for campaign.

FORMAL plans for a brand new chemotherapy and day treatment unit at North Devon District Hospital are set to take shape during the next few months.

Chemotherapy Appeal managers say they have been overwhelmed by the level of support for the �2.2m fund-raising campaign, launched in the North Devon Gazette last February.

There is still much work to do, but a meeting to draw up detailed plans has been brought forward from March and is now expected to take place in the next few weeks.

Trust chief executive Jac Kelly told the Gazette that 2012 would be an “exciting” year for the campaign.

She said: “Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the appeal so far. There has been a fantastic response and we are now looking at the next steps required to create a new chemotherapy and day treatment unit for the people of North Devon.”

In less than 12 months, the region has rallied to get behind the cause, raising an astonishing �300,000 pounds to help turn the ambitious project into reality.

From coffee mornings to golf days to bingo nights, events big and small have been organised by supporters determined to make a difference to the lives of nearly 5,000 local cancer patients who use the existing service in Barnstaple every year.

The appeal has also been boosted by a �250,000 donation from the North Devon Cancer Care Centre Trust, and with pledges and other donations coming in daily, the total currently stands at around �600,000.

Ian Roome, appeal fund-raising manager, said: “In the current economic climate, and with so many other worthy charities to support, the response has been quite remarkable.

“People in North Devon have taken this appeal to their hearts and shown a level of support we could have never imagined when we set out nearly a year ago.

“They have come up with so many great ideas and events and I want to say thank you to everyone who has got involved and put their hands in their pockets to support us.

“We now need to keep the momentum going and ensure in 2012 we build on the success of last year. We have already been pledged around �50,000 for events planned this year but there is still a long way to go.”

If successful, the money raised for the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust Charitable Fund appeal would be used to replace the outdated and cramped facilities with a brand new stand-alone space alongside the main hospital building.

For many, it would also spell an end to regular trips to Exeter for treatment.

Katie Cross, lead consultant for cancer services at NDDH, said: “Dealing with cancer is a hugely difficult experience, both for the patients and their families.

“Through the help of local people, we can provide a much more comfortable and welcoming environment and I want to thank everyone who is supporting the appeal.”