GWH's celebratory 'thank you' to donors for the Brighter Futures radiotherapy appeal's successThere was a dramatic start to the celebrations at GWH (January 25) for the success of the Brighter Futures charity's radiotherapy appeal which has reached its £2.9million target - and is now closed.
Groups of people standing around in front of the hospital's main entrance suddenly started to sing Queen's Don't Stop Me Now. The promised 'flash mob' was in progress - and as they sang they moved into a great arc - they were a mammoth and brilliant choir.
They then discarded overcoats and jackets to reveal their T-shirts - they were the Rock Choir North Wiltshire under their leader Kate Benson.
Adding a few voices to the celebrations was Rory Bremner who has been an active supporter of the appeal from its launch. In his Trump voice he reckoned this was the biggest crowd he'd ever seen!
Since May 2015 Brighter Futures has been raising money for the new radiotherapy centre, which will be built and run by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at the Great Western Hospital.
Local businesses and community groups joined the charity's staff to celebrate the impressive fundraising efforts - raising the £2.9 million to equip the new centre, which will bring radiotherapy closer to home for thousands of cancer patients in Swindon and Wiltshire.
Patients and visitors were joined by members of local Rotary Clubs, the Nepalese Association, Moose International and Ladies Circle, WHSmith, TE Connectivity, XPO, Malmesbury and Savernake League of Friends groups, and Dr Thomas Cranston Wilson Charitable Trust - and many more.
Guests were welcomed by Roger Hill, GWH's Chairman and Dr Claire Hobbs, Head of Radiotherapy at Oxford University Hospitals, who spoke about the building project, the expansion of the service and the partnership between the two Trusts.
She said it would treat about 1,000 patients a year - with only those needing very special treatment having to travel to Oxford. Work at the site has already begun - including moving a duck pond - and she hopes work on the building will start later this year and take from 15 to 18 months to complete.
The appeal, which launched in May 2015, has seen hundreds of local people across Swindon and the surrounding areas take part in a variety of fundraising activities to raise the £2.9 million.
Supporters have jumped out of planes, cycled across the UK, motored to Cyprus and Mongolia, walked from Oxford to Swindon, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, taken on the London Marathon and Great North and South runs. Hundreds more local people have hosted bingo nights, cake sales, tea parties, discos and head shaves, among many other activities.
One local fundraiser was Andy Sears of Andrews Quality Meats in Highworth - his main contribution was through running. And he and his wife and the shop have raised over £9,000.
Local organisations have also donated large sums to support the appeal, with the International Rotary Grant pledging 'a staggering £175,000'.
Roger Hill gave a 'big thank you' to everyone who had supported the appeal : “We are absolutely thrilled to have reached our target at Christmas, thanks to the generosity of local people, organisations and community groups."
“Receiving radiotherapy treatment in Swindon will make a huge difference to the lives of so many people, saving over 13,000 journeys to Oxford every year."
Dr Claire Hobbs expressed her gratitude to all the fundraisers: “It is so exciting that we are another step down the road today. We were really pleased to be able to recently announce that our negotiations with the Department of Health are nearly complete and we hope to be able to start work this year."
“It has long been our ambition to be able to deliver radiotherapy in Swindon and reduce the number of journeys people have to take and provide our services nearer to patients’ homes.”
It is expected that the radiotherapy centre will open to patients in 2021. [Click on photos to enlarge them]