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Freemasons present cheques to The Appeal

We say a huge thank you to two Freemason Lodges; Devizes-based Moonraker Lodge and the Warminster Longleat Lodge. Members from both lodges kindly presented the Appeal with two cheques for patient care at the Royal United Hospitals, (RUH) Bath.

Ken Rake, the Worshipful Master of the Moonraker Masonic Lodge presented Jan Witt, the Appeal’s In Memory & Legacy Officer with a cheque for £900 raised specifically towards The Kelly Ross Fund which was set up through the Appeal in support of the RUH Cancer Care Campaign.

Jan holding cheque

At the presentation, Ken said: “Every year the Master of the Moonraker Masonic Lodge raises money for their chosen charity. This year, l decided to split the money between The Forever Friends Appeal in memory of my niece Kelly Ross and The Caen Hill Community Farm. Kelly Ross, sadly died from cancer aged just 32, and a tribute fund was set up in her name to raise money for the RUH where she was treated.

“We’ve raised this amount by organising events throughout the year for our members. Highlights include the Ladies Festival, which took place at Blunsdon House Hotel, a skittles evening, quizzes, ghost walks and treasure hunt raffles. At these events prizes were donated, so we’d like to thank everyone for their support.”

South of Devizes, members of the Longleat Lodge in Warminster have been helping fundraise for the Radiotherapy department at the RUH. Worshipful Master Bill said:

“Dirk Pinnell and I have undergone Radiotherapy for Cancer whilst in office as Worshipful Master so I decided that I would raise money for the Radiotherapy Department as one of my chosen charities this year. I had great pleasure in presenting a further cheque from the Lodge for £750 having already presented one for £1,100 in January this year and I’m delighted that it will go towards funding equipment for patients.”

Radiotherapy cheque donation resized

Jan said: “Every year we are amazed by the generosity of our supporters who help the hospital in difficult ways. This kind of support enables staff to deliver the very best care for their patients at the RUH.

“We are especially humbled by the continuous support of families and friends who set up a Forever Fund through the Appeal in memory of their loved ones and continue to fundraise time and time again in their honour. Kelly’s Forever Fund has continued to grow each year and over £15,000 has been raised towards the care of patients treated for cancer at the RUH.”

If you are interested in setting up a Tribute Fund to celebrate a loved one’s life and keep their memory alive, please click here

Did you know – a Freemason is guided by three principles, Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth and a Freemasons’ Lodge will support a charitable organisation known to its members and where there is a special affinity; such as a group or cause which has helped a family member or friend. To find out about the Lodges which are part of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Wiltshire, click here


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Nic’s Story – Why Therapies Matter

Nic Noble explains why the RNHRD and Therapies Centre will mean so much to her…

“Nearly 18 years ago I had my beautiful daughter, Alice. My husband and I already had two boys; Jake, nine, and Lewis, seven. Little did I know or expect that three weeks later I would be in the Royal United Hospital with a deep vein thrombosis.

“The consultant gave me the medication I had to inject every morning and the thrombosis would be disbursed. Unfortunately as this was happening, the medication was slowly eating away my vertebrae. It was becoming increasingly difficult to pick up Alice, look after the boys, look after our home, and our business, as we are self-employed.

“By April, during the Easter holidays, I collapsed and was taken into the RUH. I was able to keep Alice with me in a side ward with the help of my mum, sister and mother-in-law. An MRI scan unveiled six of my vertebrae had collapsed and I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. I was referred to Dr Bhalla at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (RNHRD, known locally as ‘The Min’). The staff at the RNHRD were fantastic, Dr Bhalla, the physios and the hydro therapists gave me the support I needed for my recovery.

“The following year my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer; after chemo and having both her breasts removed, she decided raising money would be the way for us to go! So she trained for the Bath Half and we trained to walk marathons. She did a wing walk and I shaved her hair. Then the cancer was found in her lungs and she explained to me it was my turn to run!

“We had also approached The Forever Friends Appeal about a walk we wanted to do around the hospital’s catchment area and Tim said yes. Our first walk was in 2006, raising £40,000. In 2007, I trained and completed the Bath Half and the London Marathon with Nessa’s relentless encouragement.

Nic and Ness resized

“Ness was very poorly around the time of the second walk but asked me to promise to carry on raising money for a new Cancer Centre. Sadly, in the November, Ness passed away, but her legacy lives on. The walks to date have raised over £300,000. Without the therapy at the RNHRD, I would never have been able to keep my last promise to Ness.

“The RNHRD and Therapies Centre will help so many more patients like me. At a time when you are frightened, in pain and need fantastic support, this new facility will provide a positive and nurturing environment.

“This is a wonderful project to provide bigger and better facilities that will help so many people in our community.”

Inspired by Nic’s story? If you would like make a donation towards the new RNHRD and Therapies Centre, you can make it via our website (click here) or through JustGiving.com

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Peru trekkers raise an incredible £58,000

Twenty nine fundraisers have raised over £58,000 for The Forever Friends Appeal by completing one of the world’s most iconic trekking trails, the awe-inspiring Inca Trail in Peru.

Peru Trekkers at Machu Picchu

The group signed up to the Appeal’s Inca Trail challenge months in advance of departure, with the goal to trek up to 52km at high altitude to the lost city of Incas to earn every bit of their sponsorship. As well as training to take on the tough physical challenge, they have spent a lot of their spare time fundraising by holding cake sales, car boots, quiz nights, and bucket collections.

The total amount raised will go towards the Appeal’s major campaigns; the Cancer Centre and the RNHRD and Therapies Centre, which will both be built near the front of the Royal United Hospitals, (RUH) Bath.

The charity challenge began in the Inca Capital Cusco, with an acclimatisation trek at an altitude of 3,200m. The next day, they set off to conquer the one and only Inca Trail that leads to Machu Picchu – the world’s most important archaeological find and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

As well as enduring six to eight hours per day of walking across tough terrain, the group camped under the stars each night, and climbed from 3,000m to 4,200m reaching iconic features such as the  ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’, passing through cloud forests, and reaching a glacier. On the third day they conquered two remaining mountain passes and reached the Sun Gate on day four with the view of Machu Picchu, which they then explored. Daniela Weate, from Frome said:

“I wanted to do the Inca Trail trek because my sister Jules and I had Machu Picchu on our ‘bucket list’. But sadly she died of cancer before we got to do it together. So, when I heard about The Forever Friends Appeal were going to trek the Inca Trail, I thought it was a great opportunity to do ‘our trek’ and raise money for the RUH’s new Cancer Centre.

“My favourite memory was on the route up to Dead Woman’s Pass. Four of us struggled with the altitude but we looked after each other, and were helped by our two amazing guides Elias and Yammie. We called ourselves the Musketeers, and laughed and cried our way along the route. The whole team became an amazing supportive family.”

Chris Scott, from Neston said:

“I’m so glad I achieved the trek. It was far more challenging than I expected but the scenery and wildlife were amazing –  I loved seeing humming birds and wild orchids, it was something I will never forget along with the emotional feeling I had (a few tears were shed) when we passed through the Sun Gate at the entrance of Machu Picchu.

“My favourite memory though (and I think for a few others in the group) was getting a ‘piggy back’ on one of the Porters on the way down, as it was getting dark. The speed he ran down the path was insane, but fun. I had no fear he would drop me as they are so sure footed and strong.”

With the success of the Inca Trail Trek, The Forever Friends Appeal are now looking for another group of adventurous fundraisers to take part in their 2018 Grand Canyon trek. As well as taking on this natural wonder, the trek also includes hiking the trails of two other National Parks in South West USA, Zion Canyon and Bryce Canyon.

An information evening will be held at the RUH on Tuesday 23 January 2018 with talks from the trek leader of Global Adventure Challenge who work with The Forever Friends Appeal team, and there’ll be an opportunity to hear some of the experiences from the Peru trekkers. To book your place call Laura, Events and Community Officer on: 01225 821535 or click here for more information.

Below are a few of the amazing photos from the Trek

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The Helen Straker Charity raises £36,000 for The Forever Friends Appeal

On Tuesday 5 December the Helen Straker Charity announced it has raised £72,000 during 2017 in aid of two charities, The Forever Friends Appeal and Dorothy House Hospice Care. Both charities received £36,000 each at a cheque presentation held at The Bear Hotel in Devizes as they were the two favourite charities of Helen Straker, late wife of Gordon Straker, who died in 2013 and was an active fundraiser throughout her life.

Gordon Straker (central) presents cheques to Dorothy House Hospice and RUH. Photo: Siobhan Boyle SMB2257/4

This year’s fundraising total by the Helen Straker Charity was raised across the year at a number of events including their annual golf day and clay pigeon shoot plus a generous contribution from the Devizes Lions Club.  This follows another great year of fundraising last year when the Helen Straker Charity raised a total of £80,000.

A proactive fundraiser for both the new Cancer Centre which will be built at the Royal United Hospitals, Bath and Dorothy House Hospice Care, Helen Straker sadly lost her brave fight against cancer in 2013.  Her husband, Gordon Straker, continued Helen’s impressive fundraising efforts and The Helen Straker Charity was officially registered in 2014. The charity now organises a variety of fundraising events each year including golf days, clay pigeon shoots, dinners, balls and comedy nights.

Gordon Straker, Trustee of the Helen Straker Charity said: “My thanks to all the companies, individuals and sponsors who supported the charity this year. Well done to all involved it’s a great achievement. We are proud to have raised £72,000 in funds for Helen’s two chosen charities this year as her aim in life was to help others and it is very satisfying to be able to continue her legacy as she would have wished.”

Jan Witt, In Memory & Legacy Officer, The Forever Friends Appeal said: “On behalf of the Appeal, I personally would like to thank the Trustees of the Helen Straker charity for their continued support, commitment and raising funds for the RUH’s pioneering new Cancer Centre which will provide a highly beneficial healing environment, transforming care for patients and their families. In recognition for their superb fundraising efforts totalling £150,000 in just three years, the Helen Straker Charity are now Principal Family Partners of The Forever Friends Appeal, meaning they will have a naming opportunity for one of the specialist areas or departments within the new Cancer Centre.”

Strakers receive plaque from the Forever Friends Appeal

Phillippa Watson, Head of Fundraising at Dorothy House Hospice Care said: “Many congratulations to the charity for raising such significant funds once again in 2017, it is greatly appreciated and will help Dorothy House continue to provide specialist care for people living with a life-limiting illness. We are extremely grateful to Gordon Straker, the charity Trustees and to the Devizes Lions Club this year for all their hard work and fundraising efforts.  Dorothy House cared for Helen during her battle with cancer and we’re proud to remain a beneficiary of the Helen Straker Charity.”

For information about the Helen Straker Charity please contact Gordon Straker on: 01380 720 371.  To donate to The Forever Friends Appeal click here or to volunteer for Dorothy House Hospice Care please visit www.dorothyhouse.org.uk

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Michael Eavis is 2018 Walk of Life Ambassador

We’re delighted to announce Michael Eavis CBE as Ambassador for our 2018 Walk of Life. He will officially mark the start of the Walk of Life event, a 26.2-mile walking marathon that will take place on 12 May 2018. People are encouraged to sign up now to take part.

Michael Eavis at the RUH

The Walk of Life is an annual event which starts at The Crown Inn, Bishops Cannings and follows the the Kennet and Avon canal, finishing in Bath. There is also an option for people to take part in the afternoon and walk the 10 miles from Bradford-On-Avon to Bath.

It was created with and in memory of Vanessa Kyte, who passed away from cancer in 2007.  Every year, Vanessa’s family and friends love seeing the Walk grow and help raise even more funds for the cause that was so close to Vanessa’s heart.

This year, 500 people from across Bath, Somerset and Wiltshire took part and raised funds for the Appeal and a record amount was raised, over £130,000 by individuals and corporate sponsorship for the Appeal’s major fundraising campaigns and RUH wards.

Tim Hobbs, Head of Fundraising, The Forever Friends Appeal said:

“The Walk of Life is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the life and memories of your loved ones. We were overwhelmed by the incredible amount raised this year and are extremely grateful to everyone for their support and making it a sellout.

“We are thrilled to have Michael join us as he is a big supporter of ours and he gave our walkers a great send-off this year. We are really looking forward to next year’s event as it’s one of the Appeal’s highlights in our event calendar.

“Fundraising for the RUH and its patients is vital and the funds are going towards the build of our new Cancer Centre, the new RNHRD and Therapies Centre as well as other departments in the RUH.”

To celebrate the success of this year’s Walk of Life event, we invited Michael to come and meet James Scott, RUH Chief Executive and staff.

Places for the 2017 Walk of Life sold out months before the event, so to avoid disappointment, interested walkers are invited to sign up as soon as possible..

General entry places and Corporate Challenge places for business teams for the Walk of Life cost £20 and everyone who signs up will receive a t-shirt, medal and refreshments along the way.  Sign up today

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Former RUH patient supports Cancer Care campaign

Former RUH patient Kevin Gullick is so grateful to staff at the Oncology Department for saving his life, that he’s donating 30 per cent of sales from his new book to the RUH Cancer Care campaign. His novel, Nelvik, Escape to Beulah Land, is a fantasy adventure. His personal story, ‘My thanks to the RUH for my new life’ is equally gripping – and has a happy ending too!

For website

I was admitted to the RUH for a routine biopsy on my throat on 30 December 2005 and on the 3 January 2006, I was diagnosed with having Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), an aggressive form of blood cancer.

I decided to receive a relatively new treatment plan (AML 15 Spanish Arm Protocol) and my intensive chemotherapy began on 6 January 2006 and was completed in May 2008.

Sadly, on 5 November 2007, I was once again diagnosed with a form of cancer, this time of the vocal cord. I was assured that this was an extremely early vocal carcino-ma which was eminently curable, but further investigation discovered that the carci-noma had aggressively grown significantly and it was not suitable to continue with the surgery to remove it. Therefore it was agreed that a treatment plan consisting of 35 sessions of radiotherapy and a different form of chemotherapy should be under-taken.

It was decided to discontinue my AML maintenance therapy to allow my body to re-cover and rest and build up my immune system before beginning treatment for my throat cancer. That began on 7 January 2008 and lasted for a period of seven weeks (35 sessions in total) and completed on 21 February 2008. Good news followed on in April where I was given the all-clear for the throat cancer.

A decision was made by Dr Charles Singer and his team in May 2008 not to reintro-duce the AML maintenance treatment as I had already completed two years’ treat-ment. It was a great relief to me and my family but I had to continue attending the hospital on various occasions to allow the Oncology department to take my blood and continue to analyse it for any anomalies. This continued until July 2011 when I was finally informed that there was no need to attend any further clinics.

Sadly my father died in RUH in 2010 due to cancer and in August 2011 I was once again admitted to the RUH to undergo surgery to have my Gall Bladder removed.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the personnel in the Oncology and ENT departments who paid attention to great detail in order to treat me and make my stay and visits to the RUH as comfortable as possible. In particular I would like to thank Senior Haematologist Consultant Dr Charles R J Singer, Dr Vinayak Tandon, Dr Philip Robson; Dr Sarah Wexler; and Specialist Research Nurse, Christine Cox.

I would also like to thank Professor Martin Birchall for his persistence and profes-sional dedication in discovering the root cause of my vocal hoarseness.

To Mr John Waldron FRCS Consultant Surgeon, who always made my wife and I welcome and at ease during his clinics and to Mr Arunesh Specialist Doctor and Mr Darren Pinder Consultant.

Without the tireless dedication and professional commitment by all those mentioned and many others, I would not be alive today. Please accept my sincere thanks and gratitude for saving my life. Today I enjoy spending time with my two grandchildren and without the RUH it would not be possible.

As a mark of our great respect and thanks to RUH, my wife and I have decided to work with the charity Forever Friends in a joint venture to raise funds for the hospital and the charity Green Valley Organics with the aim of fulfilling its vision and mission to work with poor farmers, widows and families in Uganda, East Africa.

Nelvik, Escape to Beulah Land is available online and in all Waterstone book stores. However in order for the Appeal to receive 30% of the book sales, please email kjgullick@sky.com and don’t forget to include the product code FFA30 when place your order.

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