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Gunn cancer helpline goes nationwide

PUBLISHED: 06:36 02 January 2006 | UPDATED: 08:34 16 July 2010

MARK NICHOLLS

A support line for parents with children who have leukaemia or cancer set up by the Bryan Gunn Appeal is set to be launched nationally.

A support line for parents of children who have leukaemia or cancer set up by the Bryan Gunn Appeal is to be launched nationally.

The gaps:line (Gunn Appeal Parent Support), which is available seven nights a week from 8pm to 10pm, was launched as a pilot in Norfolk in early 2004 and expanded across the eastern region in December 2004.

It is now ready to go nationwide and will be launched in a ceremony hosted by Norwich North MP Dr Ian Gibson at the Commons on January 11.

The gaps:line is a family telephone support service and is staffed by volunteer parents who have been through the experience of having a child with cancer or leukaemia.

It aims to help parents, or grandparents, trying to cope with the rollercoaster of emotions and difficulties which are encountered when they have a child with one of these diseases.

The gaps:line project will depend on continued support for the Bryan Gunn Appeal, which was launched by The Dove Trust in April 1993 following the death of Bryan and Susan Gunn's two-year-old daughter, Francesca, from leukaemia in autumn 1992.

Former Norwich City goalkeeper Bryan Gunn, who was Sheriff of Norwich in 2002/03, said: "I know from our own experience that it helps to talk to other people who can understand your feelings."

Project co-ordinator Barbara Bryant said the move to launch nationally had been taken now after ensuring the project worked effectively in Norfolk and the eastern region.

Links have been established with organisations such as the UK Children's Cancer Study Group and the National Alliance of Childhood Cancer Parent Organisations.

And staff at UK cancer treatment centres, especially oncology nurses, will be involved in referring people to the service.

Mrs Bryant added: "Volunteers are given full training and have to be referred by their oncology nurse and be within five years of their child's treatment. But also six months must have passed since bereavement or completion of treatment."

The gaps:line is there to replicate the supportive 'coffee room' experience within hospitals and fill the gap between hospital and home.

The gaps:line website offers an easy walk through the service, designed to be accessible for parents, carers and children. There is a fun interactive football game on the site, which takes its inspiration from Bryan Gunn's career for Norwich City and Scotland.

Bryan Gunn Appeal website is at www.charitygiving.co.uk. The Gaps website is www.gaps.uk.com and the Gaps:line is 0845 121 4277.

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