The last piece of the roof has now been added to the new Cancer and Wellbeing Centre at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH), but more funds need to be raised before the doors can open.
Fundraisers, supporters and staff from NDDH and Over and Above gathered together on Friday 27 September to see the final piece of turf added to the sedum roof.
But the event was also a reminder that £600,000 still needs to be raised to complete the £1.5 million appeal. After this target is met, around £115,000 will need to be raised each year towards the running costs of the centre.
The Cancer and Wellbeing Centre will support cancer patients and people with long-term conditions through every stage of their journey, from diagnosis, through treatment and beyond. The centre will also provide support for their families.
This will be a first for North Devon, with the nearest cancer support centres currently in Exeter or Plymouth.
Ian Roome, head of fundraising and volunteering at Over and Above, said: “I must say a heartfelt thank you to the North Devon community for the stupendous amount of fundraising that has happened over the last two years. Individuals, groups, businesses – everyone has got behind this appeal and because of you we now have a building.
“But right now it is just a shell. It needs to be filled with facilities, equipment and services before it can be filled with people. We are hoping to open the unit to people in early spring, but there’s still some way to go to raise the funds we need.”
The centre is being built by local firm Pearce Construction and has been designed by Pilton-based architects David Wilson Partnership Ltd. Building plans include 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.
The sedum roof of the centre will support the growth of living plants, which not only has the effect of looking pretty, but is also very low maintenance as it copes well with both heavy rainfall and drought.
Paul Knox, managing director of Pearce Construction (Barnstaple) Ltd, said: “It really is a privilege for Pearce to deliver this much-needed facility right on our door step. What makes it special is the local fundraising that is going into making this project happen and that it is also employing local people who live and work here”.
The centre will include a drop-in facility, information on cancer and chronic illnesses, financial and benefits advice, hair loss support, bra fittings, nutritional advice, support to relatives and carers, and much more.
The centre will also provide accommodation for relatives, carers or friends who urgently need to be nearby whilst a loved one stays in hospital overnight.
Ian Roome added: “We’ve got a great team of people who are now looking at things like colour schemes and furnishings, including former patients and staff from the hospital. Plus we’ve been working closely with FORCE in Exeter to see what they’re doing there that we can provide in North Devon too. It’s a really exciting time and we’re nearly there.
“Did you know that if everyone in North Devon donated £5 we would reach our target plus two years of running costs? Please support us in any way you can – you can send a donation to the charity, leave a lasting legacy in your will or take part in any fundraising or sponsored events.”
Find out more about the appeal on the Over and Above website here
In 2018, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust received around 9,000 referrals for cancer and almost 2,000 people were diagnosed with cancer, an increase of 19% since 2017. Whilst the Trust sees over 2,000 patients and their families every year, far more people are currently living with cancer in North Devon – around 6,000.
There is rising demand in northern Devon for cancer services and support for people with long-term conditions. These people need financial, emotional and practical support, as well as medical treatment, but the nearest dedicated cancer support centre is in Exeter.
Over and Above is raising funds to build a Cancer and Wellbeing Centre. If for any reason we can’t build this centre, or there are surplus funds left over following the successful build, the money will be used for other general charitable purposes.