Belfast Telegraph readers help cancer charity reach £2m mark
Belfast Telegraph readers have helped raise a staggering £2m to build accommodation that will allow families of children being treated for cancer to stay together.
Charity CLIC Sargent is thrilled the fundraising campaign has passed the halfway stage and Northern Ireland's first 'Home from Home' – situated close to the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children's entrance in west Belfast – free accommodation will be provided to families so they can remain close to their child while they undergo treatment.
When the Belfast Telegraph launched its £50,000 CLIC Sargent Christmas appeal last December there was an overwhelming response from readers.
Among them was a group of Millisle pensioners who donated the proceeds of their weekly coffee mornings after reading the moving story of 14-year-old cancer patient Honour Johnston in this newspaper.
Last night, Honour's mother Rachel said she was delighted to hear the Homes from Home campaign was progressing well and that her daughter's story had helped generate interest in such a worthwhile project.
Rachel said: "Honour is over her treatment for ovarian cancer, but still goes to hospital for check ups.
"The outlook for her is very good. I wish at the time of her treatment there had been a Home from Home.
"For families having to travel big distances, juggle other children, work and home life it will be a godsend.
"I've spoken to other mothers making twice the journey we had to and it does take its toll.
"A Home from Home means the whole family can be together.
"I'm so glad Northern Ireland is finally getting this fantastic facility."
The Homes from Home appeal is a £3.7m capital project and is the largest undertaken by CLIC Sargent in Northern Ireland.
In addition to the house close to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, CLIC Sargent is fundraising to complete a similar house for young people aged 16-24 and their families attending the City Hospital for cancer treatment.
The charity is working hard to raise the remainder of its £3.7m target in order to complete the project by the end of 2014.
Teresa Sloan, fundraising appeal director, said the CLIC Sargent team has been bowled over by the level of support from the Northern Ireland public so far.
"They say charity begins at home and for me this sums up the generosity of our supporters," she said.
CLIC Sargent is a UK cancer charity for children and young people, providing clinical, practical and emotional support for young cancer patients and their families. Each week two children and young people in Northern Ireland are told they have cancer. Treatment normally starts straightaway and can last up to three years. Although survival rates are over 70%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children in the UK.