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Actress launches ‘Brick’ fundraiser

A new fundraising initiative is being launched by the Royal United Hospital’s Forever Friends Appeal and they are thrilled to have popular English actress Brenda Blethyn OBE, who has worked in theatre, film and TV, backing this new scheme.  The ‘Be a Brick / Buy a Brick’ scheme is being launched as a fundraiser for the RUH Cancer Care Campaign, following the huge success of the ‘Buy a Baby Brick’ scheme that raised over £100,00 to help build the sensational new Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care.

To mark the launch of ‘Be a Brick’, on Monday 4th February, a delivery of giant cardboard bricks will be made to the hospital, in a digger kindly provided by MJ Church.  Builder Big Ted and Brenda will greet the digger and will have the task of delivering these virtual bricks to the current Cancer Unit.  Having only just finished filming new episodes of the TV drama ‘Vera’, playing Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, Brenda is excited to be visiting Bath, as a keen supporter of The Forever Friends Appeal, especially to launch the ‘Be a Brick’ scheme.  Brenda Blethyn comments:  “I am so happy to be able to come and support The Forever Friends Appeal at the launch of their new ‘Be a Brick’ Scheme.  I was very impressed with the success of the premature baby unit. The Forever Friends turns dreams into reality”.

The new scheme is being launched alongside the Appeal’s brand new ‘Be a Brick’ builder bear logo – that sees Big Ted adorning a ‘Be a Brick’ t-shirt, builders hat and spade.  Head of Fundraising for the Appeal team, Tim Hobbs, comments:  “The Appeal’s new builder bear logo with a ‘Be a Brick’ t-shirt is the perfect representation of the new scheme.  Everyone really loved our ‘Buy a Baby Brick’ scheme that raised money for the new NICU, so we hope this ‘Be a Brick’ scheme is just as popular.  We are especially thrilled to have Brenda’s backing.  With her initials being ‘BAB’ – it just seems so fitting that she is backing ‘Be A Brick’.”

This exciting new ‘Be a Brick’ scheme will give the general public the opportunity to ‘Be a Brick!’ and ‘Buy a Brick, Row or Wall’ to help raise funds to build a pioneering new Cancer Centre for the hospital.  In return for purchasing a virtual brick at the cost of £10 each, donors will receive a ‘Be a Brick’ certificate and acknowledgement letter.  If donors choose to purchase a virtual ‘Row’ for £100 or ‘Wall’ for £1000, they will receive a certificate together with an acknowledgement of their chosen name within the design of the new Cancer Centre.

Anyone can purchase as many Bricks, Rows or Walls as they would like and the scheme will be running throughout the duration of the Cancer Care Campaign, providing the opportunity to collect Bricks and reach for a target of a Row or Wall.  Individuals could buy a brick as a celebration gift, in memory of a loved one or even just for themselves.  Schools, work places and groups of friends and family are encouraged to get together and aim to fundraise enough to purchase a Row or even a Wall.

Already lining up to purchase the very first virtual brick is Facilities Administration Assistant at the RUH, Karen Rickards.  Karen comments:  “I am buying a brick in memory of my lovely Brother Paul Tidcombe who died on 17th June 2011. Paul used to run Bath Sewing Machine Services in Walcot Street and was a much loved and well respected member of the community there. He sadly had prostate cancer and passed away just 2 weeks after his 70th Birthday, at the RUH after a brave fight. I believe a brick in memory of Paul for the new cancer unit would be most appropriate and a fitting tribute to a much loved man. It would mean the world to me to purchase the very first brick for Paul – it is just something I can do for my beloved brother, I want his memory to live on and it will feel like he will still be helping people.  This scheme has provided the opportunity to do this” 

The first event organised by Andrew Ward and Appeal Ambassador Sally Feeny, to help encourage the purchase of ‘Bricks’, is on Tuesday 5th February at Woods Restaurant in Bath. The Ukulele Orchestra of Bitton will be providing background music, whilst diners enjoy a delicious 3 course meal offered by Woods at a very special price.  Guests will be invited to purchase ‘Bricks’ to help support the Cancer Care Campaign.

The Forever Friends Appeal launched phase two of the Cancer Care Campaign back in May – raising over £5m over the next 4 years towards the cost of building a £20.5m pioneering new Cancer Centre at the RUH, and which is due to be completed by around 2017.  The new Cancer Centre will be a joint NHS / Charitably funded project with the parties contributing 75 / 25 % respectively.  Tim Hobbs, head of The Forever Friends Team says:  “The need for a new Cancer Centre has been recognised as a key priority by the RUH and it will be the biggest fundraising campaign ever undertaken at the hospital”.

The RUH treats over 2000 new cancer patients every year. Every day the disease indiscriminately alters people’s lives.  Furthermore, the incidence of cancer is increasing and it is estimated that by 2025 many people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetimes.  Whilst the level of clinical skills offered by the medical team at RUH are amongst the best in the UK, the buildings for much of the existing cancer services date back to the early 1940’s when they were hurriedly constructed for WW11 service personnel.

The RUH is planning to build a pioneering Cancer Centre which builds on the holistic approach taken with the Dyson Centre for neonatal Care and balances the clinical expertise of the hospital with the provision of a nurturing and therapeutic environment.  The aim is to create a Cancer Centre where the four strands of ‘Clinical Excellence’, a ‘Therapeutic Environment’, a ‘Survivorship model of care’ and proactive ‘Research’ are welded together to powerful effect, creating a highly beneficial healing environment for patients and their families which will transform the care of cancer patients and their families, and provide a model of a care that can be replicated elsewhere by similar hospitals.

Also attending the launch are two supporters of the Appeal – 34 year old Mark Hucklebridge from Wiltshire who has been fundraising for the Appeal’s Cancer Care Campaign following his diagnosis with cancer and 71 year old Geoff Hudd from Bath.  Both Mark and Geoff, who are running the Bath Half Marathon in just 4 weeks’ time to raise funds for the new Centre, are fully on board with the new ‘Be a Brick’ scheme, as they know only too well how important it is to raise the funds needed to help build this new Centre. After two years careful monitoring Geoff was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010 and has since undergone treatment within the cancer unit at the Royal United Hospital.  Geoff, comments: “In all of the last 4 years, I have been given the staff’s undivided and friendly attention for as long as I’ve needed it.  The Urology and Oncology departments of the RUH are brilliant – so please help to raise funds to give them and their patients the premises and facilities they so much deserve.”

To help build our new Cancer Centre and ‘Be a Brick’ please visit our ‘brick’ page or call 01225 825691.