Public urged to back £600,000 appeal to help Norfolk cancer patients

The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Rev Graham James with other backers of the Norfolk and Norwich University

The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Rev Graham James with other backers of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's Targeted Radiotherapy Appeal. - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

An appeal to raise £600,000 so people with cancer in Norfolk and Suffolk can have more effective and less gruelling treatment for cancer has been given fresh impetus, after high-profile figures pledged their support for the fundraising drive.

More than a third has been raised so far for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's biggest ever cancer-related fundraising campaign – to create a new unit which will better target radiotherapy in the treatment of prostate cancer and, potentially, other cancers.

The Targeted Radiotherapy Appeal aims to provide state-of-the-art facilities at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for people undergoing internal radiotherapy, known as brachytherapy.

It is a form of treatment used to treat prostate and other cancers. Because it focuses on the tumour itself and does less damage to surrounding tissues it can be used at higher dosages, reducing treatment times and meaning some patients can be treated closer to home.

At the moment patients have to travel to London or Cambridge for that treatment and have to endure more than seven-and-a-half weeks of radiotherapy.

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And some of the most high-profile figures in the region yesterday signed up to a new pledge supporting the hospital's appeal – to help kickstart the drive to raise the £400,000 still needed. The Bishop of Norwich – the Rt Rev Graham James – was the first to sign up to support the scheme at an event held at the Bishop's House yesterday.

Others to sign up included Philip Blanchflower, the chairman of Big C; Daniel Williams, chief executive of Big C; Simon Bailey, temporary chief constable of Norfolk; Noel Warner, chairman of Norfolk and Waveney Prostate Cancer Support Group; Provincial Grand Mason John Rushmer, broadcaster Martin Bell and Wendy Adams, vice-chairman of the Norfolk Federation of Women's Institutes.

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Richard Jewson, the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Richard Jewson and the Rt Rev Alan Hopes, Bishop of East Anglia, have also committed to signing the pledge, while Nigel Pickover, editor of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, has also added his support.

Bishop Graham said: 'I am pleased to endorse the appeal which will have such significant benefit for local cancer patients. By bringing together public figures I hope we will encourage others to raise money for the appeal and to get the message out to a wider audience.'

The idea for the centre was that of the hospital's oncologist consultant Dr Tom Roques and Dr Jenny Nobes.

The Big C has already pledged £50,000 towards the appeal. Daniel Williams, chief executive, said: 'As Norfolk's cancer charity we are very pleased to be supporting the development of new specialist treatment and expertise which will improve the lives of local people.'

The campaign has been backed by health minister Norman Lamb. The North Norfolk MP said: 'It is incredibly important to ensure that people have access to good quality modern medical facilities and, where possible, for treatments to be available locally.'

Anna Dugdale, chief executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said her father had died because of cancer, while her mother and sister had both had their own battles with the disease, so the appeal was important to her, both personally and professionally. She said: 'We are very grateful for this pledge of support by leaders within our community for the Targeted Radiotherapy Appeal campaign which will make a huge difference to the lives of local people and their families.'

Broadcaster and former MP Mr Bell is a patron of the Norfolk and Waveney Prostate Cancer Support Group. He will host an 'Evening with Martin Bell' in aid of the appeal at Norwich's OPEN venue on Bank Plain on November 21.

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