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Royal United Hospital

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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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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Charitable Trust buys life-saving equipment for the RUH

More lives are being saved at the RUH thanks to a new high-tech surgical imaging machine which has been funded by a local Charitable Trust.

The benefactor of the Trust, who wishes to remain anonymous, generously donated £56,000 to The Forever Friends Appeal, so they could buy the much-needed instrument called a BV Pulsera

It’s now in use in the RUH’s Gastroenterology department, which specialises in all aspects of the digestive system, including the upper and lower bowel, liver, and pancreas.  Its main purpose is to take and then display real-time imaging for a range of clinical procedures such as diagnosing and treating biliary and pancreatic cancer as well as gall stone disease. It also allows the operator to place stents across blockages in the oesophagus, and the first part of the small intestines and the colon.

 Tina Thresher, Endoscopy Ward Manager, RUH said:

“It’s a vast improvement on our present equipment. Since it’s been installed in our department it’s already saved two peoples’ lives, including a patient who was in Critical Care who needed a Gastroenterology procedure. As we had the BV Pulsera ready to use, all we had to do was coordinate staff and expertise.

“This surgical imaging instrument is truly lifesaving and we can’t extend our gratitude enough for such a generous donation.”

The BV Pulsera will not only be used for emergency cases, but also for scheduled procedures – and is now linked up to the RUH’s seminar room for use at regional training days to teach other clinicians how to do specialist procedures.

Ben Colleypriest, Consultant in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, RUH said:

“This is a vital piece of equipment that will change people’s lives on a weekly basis. The upgrade from our previous equipment is revolutionary. It has improved the quality of care we deliver to hundreds of patients and opens up new avenues of treatment. We are extremely grateful for the donation.”

 Edward Hassall, Trusts and Foundations Officer, The Forever Friends Appeal said:

“We’re thrilled to have received this generous support. It means a huge amount to the clinicians in the Gastroenterology Unit. Donations like this, which sit outside our major fundraising campaigns, make a huge difference in helping to support the delivery of high quality healthcare – as well as to save people’s lives. We’re extremely thankful for the kind gift.

“If you’re interested in making a donation to the RUH, we would be delighted to hear from you. To find out more click here.”

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Run for the RUH in 2018 Bath Half – places available

People who have missed out on a general entry place in next year’s Bath Half can sign up and run for The Forever Friends Appeal. We have a limited number of charity places still available for the race which takes place on Sunday 4 March 2018.

Kathryn French. Bath Half 2018 EL edit

Laura Pearce, Senior Events Fundraiser, The Forever Friends Appeal said:

“If you’re interested in running one of the best half’s in the country (and our local!), then join our team today. By running for the RUH, every step you take will help support patients when they need it most. The money you raise will make it possible for us to fund additional equipment, research and innovations, as well as finishing touches and extras that go above and beyond what standard NHS funding can provide.

“When you join our team, you can choose to support any ward or department that’s close to your heart or one of our major projects – RUH Cancer Care Campaign or RNHRD and Therapies Centre.

Kathryn French (pictured above), aged 34 from Hilperton said:

“I’ve signed up to run for The Forever Friends Appeal in the 2018 Bath Half to say thank you to the staff at the RUH for being there for my family in our hours of need. They gave incredible care to my mum who suddenly passed away earlier this year, two days after I’d run this year’s Bath Half.

“My mum only spent 24 hours in the Critical Care Unit at the RUH. I sat by her bedside during this time, and watched all the incredible staff go about their daily tasks. They were all so kind and attentive and even let my dad and I stay the night in a room next to the ward.

“In what was the worst 24 hours, they tirelessly saw to our every need and kept us well informed right until the precious end. It was these incredible people that prompted me to sign up for the 2018 Bath Half and I will be honoured to wear my vest with pride on the day and hopefully raise the much needed funds to help give something back to the Critical Care Unit at the RUH.”

To run for us, The Forever Friends Appeal, places cost £35 and runners will need to raise a minimum sponsorship of £175. Laura Pearce said:

“All team members will receive a free RUH running vest, a fundraising pack with advice, tips and a sponsorship form as well as training support and the biggest cheers and encouragement on the day to help you cross the finish line.”

Sign up here to today or contact our Events Office for more information, call: 01225 821535.

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Beckington Ball raises £29K for RUH Cancer Centre

Proceeds raised at the prestigious Beckington Ball have been generously donated to The Forever Friends Appeal. A cheque for £29,000 has been donated to the RUH’s pioneering new Cancer Centre which will provide state-of-the-art cancer treatment to thousands of patients treated at the RUH.

Beckington Ball cheque presentation

The Beckington Ball is a biennial event held near Frome. It aims to bring local businesses together, large and small to raise funds for good causes.  The Beckington Ball Committee includes Chris Weare, Ang Allen and Dan Gulliford, as well as other volunteers who organise the event. Tickets for the 2017 ball sold out within 24 hours.

Chris Weare, Beckington Ball Committee member said:

“Overall, the event was an overwhelming success and I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came on the night and showed their support. We raised funds in a number of different ways; from sponsoring tables to donating prizes for the raffle draw, the generosity just kept coming. We also had an auction of promises with prizes ranging from day trips to local experience events.

“I’d also like to thank Justin Thorner and the team at Wainwrights for being our lead sponsor and showing their support and to the Appeal’s Warminster and District RUH Fundraising Group for their help. It was a heart-warming event and wonderful to see people’s response to supporting such a worthy local cause.”

Claudia Hickin, Senior Community Fundraiser, The Forever Friends Appeal said:

“We are completely overwhelmed by the generosity and would like to thank The Beckington Ball Committee for donating the funds towards our Cancer Care campaign.

“In recognition for fundraising over £50,000 in two years, the Beckington Ball Committee are Principal Community 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.”

Through support from the public and major donations, The Forever Friends Appeal continues its Cancer Care campaign hoping to generate over £9m towards the building. To make a donation or find out about the new Cancer Centre click here

Photo above: left to right: Terry Hickmott (member of Warminster and District RUH Fundraising Group), Chris Weare, Big Ted, Annie Hickmott (member of Warminster and District RUH Fundraising Group) and Justin Thorner

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The RNHRD and Therapies Centre information & tour event

The RUH is holding an information and tour event for people interested in finding out about the new purpose-built RNHRD and Therapies Centre which will be located close to the main entrance of the RUH.

The event will take place in the Therapies Department at the RUH on Thursday 17 August and will start at 6pm, finishing at 7:30pm. It’s open to everyone including people who have already made a donation towards the RNHRD and Therapies Centre Campaign.

RUH therapists and clinicians will host the information evening and will share the vision of the new RNHRD and Therapies Centre which has been designed in conjunction with patients and clinicians.

The RNHRD & Therapies Centre

Gina Sargeant, Head of Therapies at the RUH said:

“We hope to welcome as many people as possible who have interest in the new centre and supporting us. At the event, you’ll find out about our exciting RNHRD and Therapies Centre, its progress as part of the hospital’s redevelopment programme, as well as have a tour around our existing therapies department. You’ll learn how patients in the future will benefit from being treated in a patient-centred environment that is essential for supporting their healing process.

“We know that approximately over 75,000 patients will visit this new building every year to access our range of services and every patient is important as the next. Whether they visit once or twice for an acute sports injury, need a course of treatment, such as after a heart attack they’d have cardiac rehabilitation or come regularly to learn self-management of their condition, this new centre will offer something for every RUH patient journey.”

The new building will bring together many of the services currently located at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (RNHRD and in RUH North, namely rheumatology, therapies and pain management services under one roof.

Gina said:

“Come to this event and our therapists will talk about the dedicated specialist facilities which will be provided in the new RNHRD and Therapies Centre. You will also hear about our fundraising campaign run by our hospital charity, The Forever Friends Appeal and find out about the ‘Match Funding Challenge’ set up by the Brownsword Charitable Foundation to help raise the £2m towards the total cost of the building.”

Information about the variety of events organised by The Forever Friends Appeal will also be available for people who want to help raise funds towards the new centre.

Interested in attending this event? Call Alix on 01225 825931 or email alixramelli@nhs.net to reserve your seat. Alternatively, for more information about the RNHRD and Therapies Centre click here

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