Cancer centre opened by Duke

FAMILIES and fundraisers were among the people who eagerly gathered to meet the Duke of Kent as he made a special trip to Suffolk.The royal visit saw the Queen's cousin meet councillors, headteachers, doctors, students, and elderly people as he toured the east of the county yesterday.

FAMILIES and fundraisers were among the people who eagerly gathered to meet the Duke of Kent as he made a special trip to Suffolk.

The royal visit saw the Queen's cousin meet councillors, headteachers, doctors, students, and elderly people as he toured the east of the county yesterday.

Five years of fundraising were recognised when he visited the new Cancer Information Centre for Suffolk, based at Ipswich Hospital.

The Duke met representatives from Cancer Campaign In Suffolk, which has helped to raise £400,000, as well as people from the national charity CancerBACUP , which is providing the cancer information nurse for the unit.


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Unveiling the official plaque, the Duke said it was a "wonderful story" of community fundraising and congratulated everyone involved.

He added: "What a pleasure it has been to come to see the centre and particularly in sharing and hearing about the marvellous co-operation, and efforts, between so many people."

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The centre will be open to the public towards the end of November and will provide information about the disease through the internet, audio and visual links, and by consultation with specialists, oncologists and nurses in three private interview rooms.

The facility will be available to patients, their families, friends and carers and to anyone wanting to know about the disease, its treatment, diagnosis, support and care.

The idea of the centre was first mooted by former Ipswich Town footballer Jason Cundy, who suffered with testicular cancer, and oncologist Dr John Le Vay, who are both trustees of the cancer campaign.

Mr Cundy, who still needs six monthly check-ups, said yesterday that the centre offered him the opportunity to give something back to the hospital.

He said: "It will be invaluable. It gives patients and relatives the opportunity to get away from the hospital environment, which can be intimidating.

"You can't always leave hospital when you're ill but with this you can go somewhere and relax and find out more about the disease at your leisure.

"In my experience you don't think of all the questions you can ask but with this you can go and find the information yourself."

Dr Le Vay said: "We look back and think had we known how difficult it would be we wouldn't have thought of it. So many people have helped – the whole of Suffolk has been very supportive."

Gina Cooper, secretary of Cancer Campaign In Suffolk, said it is already planning its next project - to raise funds for equipment to help fight men's cancers and to raise awareness, as well as continuing its support of other cancer projects, like cancer in children, breast cancer and patient grants.

The Duke spent the morning seeing two of the county's top-performing high schools, which are celebrating special milestones this year.

His visit began when the royal helicopter touched down on Thomas Mills High School's playing fields at Framlingham, where staff and pupils are celebrating the school's 25th year as a comprehensive.

He was taken on a tour of the school, with pupils lining his route, and dropped in on an art class and a drama class, where students were engaging in physical theatre based on the poem 'Giovanni'.

After unveiling a plaque to commemorate his visit, he went to Debenham High School, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Headteacher Mike Crawshaw said: "The children were really impressed by him and they rose to the occasion. He was introduced to a lot of children who talked to him very confidently."

The Duke visited an exhibition celebrating Debenham High's 40-year history, and met people who were involved with the school during its first years.

His final visit was to the Oak House Very Sheltered Housing Scheme, in Stutton.

After meeting some of the most elderly residents and their families, councillors and the manager, there was time for tea before he unveiled another plaque.

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