A cancer survivor from Barnstaple has raised more than £9,000 for the wellbeing centre she has long campaigned for.
Heather Walters was able to show her family around the new Fern Centre at North Devon District Hospital, which opened earlier this month after a three-year fundraising appeal.
The 40-year-old was campaigning for the support centre from the very start. She and five other breast care patients met with Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust in 2016 to find out how patients could be offered a facility similar to the Force Cancer Support Centre in Exeter, which was too far away for ‘drop in’ support.
Heather was thrilled when the hospital charity Over and Above launched the appeal for a new cancer and wellbeing centre in August 2017 and then when the building works started in April 2019 to support people living with cancer and their families.
Heather is a trained complementary therapist and her fundraising efforts have helped provide massage couches, complementary therapy and equipment for the serenity garden.
She said: “We realised for our dream to become a reality it had to be at the hospital and fast forward four years to now – amazing!
“Sadly only a few of the original ‘gang’ are involved in the Patient Voice but we have formed a wonderful alliance with the NHS staff and the NHS Over and Above hospital charity, who I genuinely call my friends.
“As with anything that is created on this scale, it hasn’t come without some frustrations but as a united team we have all been singing from the same hymn sheet to create The Fern Centre with patients always at the forefront of our mind.
“We hope the centre, will provide the deserved resources and services to support patients and their families in any way they need. It is super exciting, and I have been extremely proud to have been a part of it.”
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.
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.