13 April 2023

Members of the East of England Asbestos Patient Support Group with staff from the Sandra Chapman Centre stand outside in the centre garden holding a large cheque. There are 12 people - six from each organisation, men and women, and the background is green bushes and trellis. Two women hold a display board between them too with photos and a rosette on.

Over £2,200 has been handed over to our Sandra Chapman Centre by the East of England Asbestos Patient Support Group to fund a new chemotherapy chair that will provide additional comfort to those receiving treatment at our hospital.

On Wednesday local members of the group, including past and present patients and fundraisers, visited to formally hand over the cheque to staff at the Centre. They included Brian Wallis, who founded the CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) which provides support to those undergoing treatment and beyond, and fundraises to support local services across Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.

Brian said; “The East of England Asbestos Patient Support Group is a registered charity and Trustees and supporters met recently to discuss how to distribute the funds raised. We decided to fund the purchase of a treatment chair for patients at the James Paget’s Sandra Chapman Centre as several of our members have used the Centre’s services either at the hospital or at the Mobile Cancer Care Unit.

“East of England Asbestos Patient Support Group was officially formed in 2022 when it was awarded registered charity status but many of the volunteers and patient/carers medical and legal professionals had been working to establish patient support services in the region since 2014.

“At that time there were very few dedicated mesothelioma cancer services in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. Working in co-operation with Mesothelioma UK, the UKs principal asbestos related cancer charity and, NHS Trusts across the region we have established Patient Support Groups (PSGs) in three of our counties and supported PSGs in other areas across the east of England and beyond.

“It is a great privilege for me to be associated with this fine group of people both as founder of East of England Asbestos Patient Support Group and past Ambassador of Mesothelioma UK, but also as advocate and trustee of our regional charity. It was the wish of my late wife, an asbestosis sufferer and inspiration behind this movement, that, together with my former colleagues from the RAF in Norfolk and Suffolk, we should look upon her legacy as a means to redress the lack of mesothelioma/asbestosis service provision in the region, as was the case in 2013.

“Regrettably, she did not live long enough to see the fruits of our labours but ten years later we are carrying out her wishes and have brought asbestos related cancer to the fore.”

Maxine Taylor, James Paget Charity Manager, said; “It is really generous of the Patient Support Group to provide £2,220 that will fund the purchase of one of the special chairs for patients receiving chemotherapy and other treatments. The chairs allow individuals to be moved from an upright position to a flat position, so patients can be helped up from a sitting position or down to a flat position instantly. The chairs are colourful, comfortable and have additional features such as a built in table, which makes them much better for our patients. Thank you to everyone involved in this fundraising.”