North Devon’s new £1.5million cancer and wellbeing centre is now open following a three year fundraising appeal.

The lounge area at the new Fern Centre at North Devon District Hospital. Picture: Tony GussinThe lounge area at the new Fern Centre at North Devon District Hospital. Picture: Tony Gussin

The new Fern Cancer and Wellbeing Centre at North Devon District Hospital is now available to cancer patients and their families with a wide range of information and support to help get them through one of the worst times of their lives.

It is just over three years since the launch of the fundraising appeal by hospital charity Over and Above and the community has responded with a fantastic effort, raising £1.3m of the total.

The Gazette has been proud to be the media partner for the appeal and we have reported at every stage, as well as brought the stories of the cancer patients and survivors who have inspired people to greater efforts.

The Fern Centre has an open-plan lounge diner, a clinic and complementary therapy room, private counselling rooms and a meeting/activity room, which will be suitable for activities such as exercise classes.

Outside the new Fern Centre at North Devon District Hospital are Over & Above fundraising manager Ian Roome and centre manager Tasmin Andrew. Picture: Tiony GussinOutside the new Fern Centre at North Devon District Hospital are Over & Above fundraising manager Ian Roome and centre manager Tasmin Andrew. Picture: Tiony Gussin

It also has three double bedrooms of accommodation, which is available to anyone during a crisis time when a family member is being treated at the hospital.

The name was chosen by the Cancer Patient Support Group as the patients felt the Fern represents life, growth, strength, and peace.

Head of fundraising and volunteering at Over and Above, Ian Roome said “We are absolutely thrilled with the new Centre. This centre will mean that our patients will be able to receive support locally.

“It has taken a huge amount of effort to make it a reality but we have done it, and the people of North Devon who have helped us should be very proud. We still need to raise a further £280,000 and Over and Above is responsible for the ongoing running costs.

A bedroom at the new Fern Centre available for family use while relatives are at North Devon District Hospital. Picture: Over & AboveA bedroom at the new Fern Centre available for family use while relatives are at North Devon District Hospital. Picture: Over & Above

“Fundraising is key to support its success and we would be grateful for donations or for individuals and business and individuals to organise events to enable us to support our vulnerable patients.”

Centre manager Tasmin Andrew said: “We are really excited to start introducing some support in the Fern Centre for our cancer patients, their relatives and carers.

“Unfortunately because of Covid-19 we are unable to offer the open drop-in service to the Fern Centre and have instead introduced an appointment-based service.

“Patients, relatives and carers can contact us to book an appointment where we can discuss how we may be able to help and complete referrals to any support services they may wish to access.

A bedroom at the new Fern Centre available for family use while relatives are at North Devon District Hospital. Picture: Tony GussinA bedroom at the new Fern Centre available for family use while relatives are at North Devon District Hospital. Picture: Tony Gussin

“We are offering counselling and psychological support from a team of qualified counsellors available to patients, their partner and their children.

“As things with Covid-19 begin to settle down we will be working hard to start up other services such as financial and benefits advice, hair loss support, complementary therapies and much more.”

To find out more about the Fern Cancer and Wellbeing Centre visit https://overandabove.org.uk/fern-centre/ or contact Tasmin Andrew on 01271 311855 or email t.andrew2@nhs.net

The centre will still need some £150,000 a year to run. If you would like to donate or fundraise, go to www.overandabove.org.uk or call 01271 311772.

A family counselling room at the new Fern Centre at North Devon District Hospital. Picture: Over & AboveA family counselling room at the new Fern Centre at North Devon District Hospital. Picture: Over & Above

The new Fern Centre meeting room. Picture: Tony GussinThe new Fern Centre meeting room. Picture: Tony Gussin

The lounge area at the new Fern Centre at North Devon District Hospital. Picture: Over & AboveThe lounge area at the new Fern Centre at North Devon District Hospital. Picture: Over & Above