All aboard! A public appeal raised £150,000 for York Against Cancer to buy and run a new minibus taking patients to Leeds for radiotherapy. We hitched a ride to experience a day in the life of the service.
The minibus, patients and driver Graham Bradbury at Bexley Wing, St James’s
“So go on then, who watched Strictly this weekend?” demands driver Graham Bradbury as he noses our minibus onto the A64. “What did Bruno say?”
Strictly judge Bruno Tonioli gets short shrift from Graham’s passengers. “Oh, some of the comments he makes! I just don’t like them,” says a voice from the back of the bus.
Strictly Come Dancing, the past weekend and quiet words of mutual support – such is the conversation on the York Against Cancer minibus as it heads for St James’s Hospital on a crisp, blue autumn day.
Those on board are using our free transport service taking people from York and the surrounding area for radiotherapy at St James’s Bexley Wing.
Today there are five patients on the bus, bought following a fundraising appeal supported by the general public and by City of York councillor Ian Gillies during his year as Lord Mayor of York.
“It’s a lot better for the patients, this bus,” says Graham, who shares driver duties with colleague Ian Stevenson. “Before, they were all single seats, but now there are double seats which are a lot more comfortable.”
Among those in the smart blue vehicle is Harry Watson, whose trip is the last but one visit in a seven-and-a-half-week course of treatment. Harry, who formerly worked in x-ray and nuclear medicine sales, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the summer.
Harry Watson with Yvonne Saunders at St James’s
“When the GP said, ‘I’m sorry, it’s cancer’ ”, recalls Harry, “I said, ‘It’s nothing to worry about.’ But then I got outside and realised what he had said! Fortunately, everything has gone really smoothly.
“When you get on the York Against Cancer bus, you get on as a stranger, but in a very short time you are all chatting about friends, relationships, jobs – it’s a form of community.”
Harry’s looking forward to tomorrow and his final dose of treatment at Bexley Wing where, bracketed to the wall in the radiotherapy reception area, is a hand bell. Patients ring it heartily when they have had their last treatment, to a loud round of applause from all around.
“I want a photo taking down there, just as that bell is falling off the wall!” Harry says, and the bus erupts in laughter.
“The bus has been brilliant,” says Harry later. “It is very convenient – my wife would have had to drive otherwise. And it is so flexible, there is no rush. One day last week there was a delay with my treatment and they said it was going to be 4.30pm before they could see me. I said to them, ‘Don’t wait, I’ll get the bus,’ but Ian said, ‘No, I will come back for you,’ and he had me home by 6pm. “
Hilary Young, from Wigginton, is having treatment for breast cancer, diagnosed at a mammography. A nurse at York Hospital, she had seen the York Against Cancer shop there but did not know about the minibus until radiotherapy was decided upon and a friend of a friend mentioned it to her.
“It has taken the stress out of the journey across to Leeds,” she says. “I would have been setting off ridiculously early to make sure I could find somewhere to park, and with the drive home afterwards I just didn’t know how I was going to feel. It was worrying me.
“This is a really useful service. There’s just a lot of laughing and joking – this is a support system that is different to anything else.”
David Lovett, of Boroughbridge Road, is a retired postman who discovered he had prostate cancer around 18 months ago and was under active surveillance until last summer when he was advised to move ahead with treatment – again, a course of radiotherapy at Bexley Wing.
“Like most men, I was just hoping it was a germ in my water, but I have got to live with it now and hopefully I am on the mend,” he says. “The service means a lot. Not having my own transport, I was thinking about how I would get there.
“It’s such a nice thing when there’s a group of us here. Everybody is chatting and if you get on the bus feeling a bit hesitant or a bit low, you get off in a completely different frame of mind.”
We’ve arrived at Bexley Wing, and as the patients walk into the light, bright public areas that look more like an art gallery than a hospital, Graham discusses his pleasure in his job. “It’s a real feel-good factor,” he says. “When you see people at a low ebb and you see them through the process and then five or six months later they are looking so much healthier, it’s great.”
As the patients have their radiotherapy we chat to Yvonne Saunders, treatment co-ordinator and information, care and support officer in the department. She sees everyone as they come in and looks out for anyone in need of special attention.
“When people make their first visit for planning or treatment and they come in not knowing what they’re walking into, we’re here to make sure they know what support there is in the department,” she says. “We have natural healing, look good, feel better sessions, help with healthy eating, beating fatigue, getting active and looking forward after treatment.
“We tell them about the free parking and the transport options, including the York Against Cancer minibus, and about the hotel service here for patients and relatives.
“I love my job. I work with everybody in the department from the managers to the cleaners; we are like one big family. We see approximately 300 to 500 patients each day Monday to Friday, having a single session up to 37. Some people are very ill, but you just make their journey through the department as comfortable as possible.
“You bump into people afterwards when they come for their follow-up appointment, or they sometimes call when they have had good news.
“It’s lovely when you bump into somebody outside the hospital. I was once shopping and saw this lady – I smiled as we passed and she smiled back. Then she realised who I was and she shouted over to me, ‘That’s one of my angels!’ That was lovely.”
We tour the radiotherapy unit: the planning department, the scanner, the high-tech radiotherapy machines, the children’s room and the teenagers’ chill-out zone. As we pass through reception, someone rings that bell to herald the end of their treatment, and applause breaks out all around them.
Tomorrow, it’ll be Harry’s turn.
Jon’s bullseye for York Against Cancer
Jon Woodall enjoys a game of darts, but he may not feel like picking up his arrows for a while after a stunning charity effort in his local club.
Jon, Of Chaloners Road, Dringhouses, staged a 12-hour darts marathon for York Against Cancer because our workers had helped his dad, David, get to hospital for radiotherapy.
“My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer and he had that illness to cope with, plus we thought we’d need to take him in shifts to hospital, and it was really worrying him,” said Jon. “Once he got in touch with York Against Cancer and discovered that the minibus could take him, the difference in him was amazing. “
Jon ran his marathon at Dringhouses Sports and Social Club, where he plays cricket and runs the junior team. “Being a member at the club, they let me in with the cleaners and I played from 9am to 9pm. A friend did the first couple of hours with me and I kept playing competitively for most of the time.
“At one point I was wilting, though – the cricketers and the footballers had gone out to play their matches and the club was virtually empty apart from my wife and kids, who were there to support me. I was throwing on my own and that was a trial, but then people came in to see me towards the end of the day.
“My dad had finished his treatment that day and he was able to sit and have his first pint afterwards. Just seeing him there was lovely, and we had a few tears, because I was doing it for Dad and the people who had helped him.”
Jon’s Dad, David, was well impressed by his son’s effort, which raised £680. “I just don’t know how he did it,” he said. He also praised our minibus service. “It was a Godsend,” he said.
We had a ball
Almost 200 people attended our Vintage Hollywood Ball at the Ebor Suite at York Racecourse, helping us raise thousands of pounds.
After a glass of bubbly at the drinks reception, guests enjoyed a fabulous three-course meal with complimentary wine before dancing the night away.
Master of Ceremonies for the evening was solicitor Mark Burn who, with fellow York branch members of the Business Network International, did so much to make this year’s event go well. Thanks go to all for their efforts in recruiting guests to the event and in sourcing wonderful prizes for the raffle and auction.
It is not yet known exactly how much was raised at Saturday’s event, but we already know that it has been a great success.
The funds raised will boost our work in education, research and care of cancer patients in York and the surrounding area, so heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped in whatever way.
Rock up and rock out for York Against Cancer!
It’s back! The hugely popular York Rocks Against Cancer returns to the Grand Opera House at 7.30pm on May 20, 2016, with a knock-out line-up that’s bound to have you on your feet. On the bill will be Barmaid and the Vets, a band made up of Emmerdale cast members, and the New York Brass Band, a New Orleans-inspired outfit fresh from two appearances at Glastonbury. Party band The Superlicks will be delivering some high-octane musical magic, as will York covers band Sister Madly, the Attitude Dance Club and Minster Conspiracy, a group of talented young musicians. Tickets, priced £15, from the Grand Opera House, Cumberland Street, York, 0844 8713024, and limited availability at York Against Cancer, North Moor Road, Huntington, 01904 764466.
A great night for a great cause
Estate agent Nick Neill (left) and solicitor Mark Burn are pictured getting into the party spirit ahead of our Vintage Hollywood Ball.
Nick and Mark are members of the York branch of the networking group Business Network International, which has joined forces with us to stage the ball in aid of our work in cancer care, research and education.
Mark, Director of Burn & Co solicitors, York, is compere for the ball in the Ebor Suite at York Racecourse on November 14, when his natty blazer will help him stand out from the crowd, and Nick, Director of EweMove York, will be giving James Bond a run for his money with his outfit for the Oscars Night-themed evening.
Members of BNI have been busily recruiting people to come along to the event as well as sourcing exciting prizes for the raffle and auction.
“Everyone likes a party in the run-up to Christmas, and what better than a ball in aid of a fantastic local cause like York Against Cancer?” said Nick.
Mark said he was very much looking forward to the evening. “It’s a great opportunity for people to get together and let their hair down, and the fact that it’s for charity is the icing on the cake,” he said.
There is still time to book yourself a great night out for a good cause. Tickets, priced £50, include reception drinks and a superb three-course meal with complimentary wine and dancing. For more information contact the York Against Cancer office on 01904 764466.
Like father, like son
Action men John Simpson and his son Marcus are taking on a year of challenges to enjoy each other’s company while raising cash for York Against Cancer.
The athletic pair from Haxby are taking on the national Three Peaks walk as well as cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End next July and August to spend time together before Marcus, 18, heads off to university.
And John, 52, is piling even more pressure on himself in aid of our work – he has completed the Coast to Coast bike ride and will also be taking on the Edinburgh Marathon on May 29, 2016, as part of the fundraising drive.
“I need to find the screws to put back into my head!” joked John, a bid manager for Kier Construction.
“Marcus was going to join me on the Coast to Coast, but he got injured quite badly in an accident when a tractor knocked him off his bike and he couldn’t take part. He’s recovering now, though.
“We wanted a challenge to do together as he is off to university next year. It is just a way of us spending some time together before he goes off to do whatever he wants to do.”
The Three Peaks challenge on April 2-3 next year will be a real family affair. John’s daughter Becky, 22, will be coming along as support driver for the tough 24 hours of climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell and Mount Snowdon.
John and Marcus wanted their efforts to reap rewards, so they decided to tackle them for York Against Cancer.
“We didn’t want to push ourselves into the ground just for the sake of it!” said John. “We wanted to raise some money for a local charity and we had a neighbour who used the York Against Cancer minibus to take him to Leeds hospital for treatment.”
Are you raising money for us? Have you benefited from one of our services, and want to tell us about it to help boost our fundraising effort? email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office on 01904 764466.
Deck the halls
Make your home extra Christmassy this year with the beautiful decorations now on sale at our Christmas shop in Gillygate, where you can also find ideal gifts for all the family. Pictured are just a few examples of the goods available at the shop, which is open Wednesday to Saturday, 11am to 5pm.
Our Christmas shop opens for business
Our lovely new Christmas shop opens for business in York on Wednesday October 14, and we can’t wait to see you down there!
We’re selling brilliant Christmas gifts for all, from brands like Emma Bridgewater and the David Jones handbag range, alongside our popular Christmas cards. We’ll be open 11am to 5pm, Wednesday to Saturday.
The shop is at 34 Gillygate this year thanks to chartered surveyors Barry Crux & Company and the building’s owners, the York Conservation Trust.
Chartered surveyor Rosie Crux said the business knew we ran a pop-up shop each year, and York Conservation Trust agreed to let them offer the Gillygate shop to us.
“We have clients with empty shops and it helps them to have the buildings occupied, even for a short time,” said Rosie. “We try to support other businesses and help out local causes.”
Philip Thake, Chief Executive of the York Conservation Trust, said the shop was one of 96 properties the charitable organisation had acquired to help preserve York’s heritage, and while it was between tenants this seemed an ideal use. “I am sure everybody is behind York Against Cancer and if we can help out in the next few months, so much the better.”
Julie Russell, our general manager, said she was delighted at the opportunity. “This is a wonderful shop in a terrific location. We couldn’t have asked for more.”
For more information about Barry Crux & Co, visit barrycrux.co.uk and to learn more about York Conservation Trust visit yorkconservationtrust.org.
Pictures show our shop (left and (right), Rosie Crux and Philip Thake handing the shop keys over to Julie Russell.
Health professionals in the running for charity
Health professionals from York have joined forces to run the city’s Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon this Sunday.
Doctors Graham Gibson and Fran Adams, Partners at MyHealth medical group, have teamed up with Branch Manager Lesley Barker, Practice Nurse Manager Fiona Wilby, PA Emily Broadbent and reception team member Hannah Birch to raise money for York Against Cancer by running as a relay team in the now annual marathon.
It’s the second time the practice, which has branches in Strensall, Huntington, Stamford Bridge and Dunnington, has entered teams in the marathon and Emily Broadbent said the runners were all eagerly looking forward to pounding the streets.
“It’s such a great atmosphere – we really enjoyed it last time and it was a wonderful team-building exercise,” she said. “We’re running for York Against Cancer because we like to support local charities – York Against Cancer will probably help somebody that each of us knows at some point, so it feels good to be supporting a charity that’s so close to home.”
The runners have set up a Justgiving page to boost support for their marathon effort: to help, visit https://www.justgiving.com/myhealth2015 or call the practice on 01904 490 532.
York girl Jazlyn Smith, nine, raises money for York Against Cancer
When nine-year-old Jazlyn Smith lined up beside fellow competitors in the Castle Howard Triathlon this summer, she was competing for more than just pride.
Jazlyn raised an amazing £572.40 for York Against Cancer by swimming 100 metres in the open waters of the Castle Howard lake before cycling four kilometres and running 1,300 metres.
She finished her first ever triathlon in a brilliant time of 37 minutes in the 8-10 year olds’ event and made her family hugely proud, not just of her sporting prowess but also of her selflessness and courage in the face of adversity.
“There is a lot happening in her little life at the moment,” explained Jazlyn’s dad, Ian. “She lost her nana in December, her grandma (Ann Smith, a former teacher at St Oswald’s CE Primary School in York) is very poorly with brain cancer, and I have had skin cancer recently.
“Her eldest sister Robyn, who’s 24, was under a consultant with the risk of ovarian cancer but we have just found out it isn’t, which is fantastic.
“Jazlyn is such a beautiful, happy child and so caring. We are very proud of her.”
Jazlyn’s dad and her mum, Helen, were delighted that she was raising money for York Against Cancer. “It is such a worthwhile cause, especially keeping it local,” said Ian. “We are all going to be touched by cancer in some way at some point in our lives.”
Jazlyn wrote on her JustGiving page how nervous, but excited, she was about the event, for which she trained at the New Earswick Swimming Club and was coached in running and cycling by family and friends.
“I want to raise as much money as I can for a worthwhile cause and I am hoping that everyone that visits my page can help me achieve my £100 target,” she said.
Ian said that she took to the triathlon really well. “It was brilliant, she loved it,” he said. “She’s tough as old boots and very athletic – she took it all in her stride and I think she might do another triathlon in future.
“Her little sister Zeyna, who’s six, is also doing her own swimming, cycling and running practice. She’s really keen – she might be next!”
More information and a chance to donate at Jazlyn’s justgiving page https://www.justgiving.com/Jazlyn-Triathlon-CastleHoward2015/