Wigan’s Cancer Research Committee winds up

28 July 2015

A committee set up in Wigan to raise money into cancer research and care is to wind up.

The activities of the Wigan and District Cancer Research Committee will cease with two final donations of the group's remaining funds to Wigan and Leigh Hospice and the Cancer Care Centre at Wigan Infirmary. Both will receive £120,000.Cancer Research Committee

The Committee was formed in April 1958 under the Presidency of the Mayor of Wigan at the time, Cllr Oliver Somers.

Since its inception almost 60 years ago the Committee has been served by volunteers who raised money through street collections, donations and legacies.

Prior to 1998 between £7,000 and £8,000 was donated every year to various organisations.

However, in 1988 one of the regular benefactors Joseph Starkey died at the age of 87 and left his estate of £928,000 to the Cancer Research Committee.

These funds were invested wisely. So much so that during the subsequent years, £2.2 million was donated to Liverpool and Manchester Universities and other local projects including £75,000 to the Wigan CT scanner appeal and funding of a special palliative care nurse at Wigan and Leigh Hospice.

The majority funded research projects to seek cures for a range of cancer diagnoses including gynaecological cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and leukaemia.

As the funds available for distribution have declined the Committee has decided to wind up and donate the remaining funds to local good causes.

The Hospice will use the funds, along with £160,000 funding from Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group and Wigan Council, towards launching its "Hospice In Your Care Home" project. This new service will offer training, support and role-modelling to staff in nursing homes across the Borough to build skills and confidence to deliver high quality end of life care to their residents.

The contribution of Joseph Starkey will be recognised in the certificates presented to each nursing home at celebration events each year. Additionally, a room in the Hospice's Woodview Centre will be renamed 'The Starkey Room' and the story of Joseph Starkey will feature alongside the room name. The Hospice will also tell the story of the Cancer Research Committee on its website.

The donation to Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Hospitals charity, 'Three Wishes' at the Infirmary will go towards further enhancement of the Chemotherapy Suite in the new Cancer Care Centre to enable more local people to receive a broader range of specialist cancer treatment in Wigan. The Chemotherapy Suite in the Cancer Care Centre will be named as the Starkey Suite in recognition.

A final donation of £47,000 has been granted to Professor Khumar at Manchester University to complete a four year project culminating in phase 1 clinical trials.

Joe Pey, from the Cancer Research Committee, said: "We are immensely proud of what the Cancer Research Committee has achieved over the years but feel that this is the right time to wind down.

"The Committee started out as a group donating small amounts to local causes but thanks to the remarkable generosity of Joseph Starkey it was able to make a significant impact towards vital cancer research projects over more than two decades.

"We are delighted that our remaining funds will not only be split between two charities which care for local people with cancer but that the contribution of Joseph Starkey will be recognised by both Wigan and Leigh Hospice and the Cancer Care Centre at Wigan Infirmary."

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