Inspirational Supporters for Cancer Research UK

PUBLISHED: 10:46 22 November 2007 | UPDATED: 14:56 20 February 2013

Lining up for the Relay for Life

Lining up for the Relay for Life

We meet some of the Devon stars who volunteer for Cancer Research UK, the organisation that's top of the tree in the fight against the disease

December is a time for celebration, and this month we're celebrating both the work of Cancer Research UK and those committed and generous volunteers who help the organisation in all sorts of ways.

Devon's businesses play a particularly important role in fundraising, and space is too limited here to list them all, but we have chosen Dartington Crystal to demonstrate the importance of that support. This year they are celebrating 40 years, and as part of their anniversary celebration they have created the 'Inspiration Vase' as a special tribute to the hard work and support of Cancer Research UK's Westcountry volunteers.

Fundraising groups throughout the county are key to generating support for the organisation. The Special Events Committee organises just a couple of unique dinners or lunches a year, in exclusive locations with prestigious speakers. The annual Torquay Ball, organised by Alison and Terry Roberts at the Palace Hotel, is certainly one of the stars of our fundraising effort and is clearly something the Roberts really care about, as 20 years ago a close family member died of cancer aged just 43.

"We decided to hold a Charity Ball in aid of Cancer Research to help fight this terrible disease. Since the beginning we have raised over £220,000 and hope to raise more in the future. Although there is a lot of hard work and organisation that goes into the Ball, it's all made worthwhile when the cheque is handed over at the end of the year."

Our community fundraising committees are a shining example of groups coming together to put on a full programme of events throughout the year. Again space does not allow us to list the successes of them all, but the Barnstaple Committee and Newton Abbott Committee provide just two examples. Dr Joyce Vale MBE, Chairman of the former, clearly has a very stylish team, which went 'fashion crazy' this year. Two fashion shows in March and November produced £3,000 of the £25,000 raised for Cancer Research UK in 2007. Committee members are now exhausted but very chic! Newton Abbot Committee Chairman John Blanchard says, "The success of our Committee is based upon team spirit. Everyone utilises their own particular skills while still pulling together, and for ten years the annual fundraising total has broken all previous records."

A new and increasingly popular project is the Relay For Life events, which are growing in number and success year on year. They bring together the whole community in a 24-hour festival of hope and remembrance. A quick jog through some of these reveals many extraordinary people doing unexpected things: the Beer committee raised over £53,000 this year and Annie Boalch's inspiring organisation created a memorable 24-hour sponsored relay walk accompanied by bands playing continuously from midday to midnight, auctions, demos, hog roasts and much, much more. The highlight came at dusk on the Saturday evening, when silence fell as walking ceased for the Candle of Hope Ceremony; hundreds of candles were lit and names read out in remembrance, and a lone piper played, after which poems were read. The silent crowd, the music and the emotion generated was truly awe-inspiring, with many a tear shed.

Jim and Jilly Franklin, the local organisers in Dawlish, said: "When we started Relay for Life in Dawlish three years ago we never realised how the event would grow and how much people who participated in it would love it. This year we raised almost £40,000, with 24 themed teams of various ages. We have new teams joining the fun each year. Rising star Anne Griffiths says that, although still gathering her committee, "the only way is up," and come next June there will be a great new community event in Braunton where "so many big kids (ie grown-ups) are looking forward to having an excuse to spend the night in a tent, playing with their torches!"

There is always room for bright new ideas, like that developed by Elizabeth Tyzack, who created a fun 'Party by the Pond' this summer for the local community, family and friends.

Why are these amazing people dedicating their time and talents to support Cancer Research UK? It's because it's the world's leading independent organisation dedicated to cancer research and has discovered new ways of treating the disease that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide. It provides information to patients, their families and friends, and runs cancer-awareness campaigns to help people reduce their risk of the disease.

In our region alone over 40 clinical trials are taking place to check that a new treatment is safe, effective and better than existing treatments. Hospital trials in Exeter and Torbay are undertaking pioneering studies to prevent cancer of the oesophagus, and women from the region are joining a 4,000-strong group investigating a new drug, Anastrozole, which can help to reduce the risk of a very early form of breast cancer called DCIS returning after surgery.

Cancer Research UK is also designing new treatments to prevent cancer in those people identified as being at greatest risk, perhaps through problems with certain genes. A small number of prostate cancers are linked to faulty inherited genes, and men from the Westountry are taking part in a study of 21,000 male prostate cancer patients which aims to uncover these genes.

Local funding is significantly assisting the work in testing new treatments, with specific schemes relating to brain tumours, lung and bowel cancer and combinations of treatments involving drugs, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, involving patients from hospitals across the region.

It is a sad fact, but true, that one in three of us in the UK will get cancer at some point in our lives. The groundbreaking work, funded almost entirely by the inspirational volunteers such as those illustrated above, will ensure that millions more people survive.

Cancer Research UK spends £315 million a year on scientific research and funds over 4,250 research scientists, doctors and nurses throughout the UK, but we still have a long way to go. We need to learn more about the causes of cancer and find better ways to prevent the disease. We also want to diagnose the disease earlier and develop more effective treatments with fewer side effects. We can do more, with your help.

Volunteering for Cancer Research UK is a two-way street, not only do you raise the vital funds needed, but you gain fun, friendship and a huge sense of personal achievement in return.

If you would like to volunteer, contact Cancer Research UK, 1 Northleigh House, Thorverton Road, Matford, Exeter EX2 8HF, (01392 822160.


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