Cancer patients and their loved ones helped to celebrate the first birthday of a North East centre that helps those with the illness.
Since the stunning Maggie’s Centre was opened more than 16,000 people with cancer, as well as families and friends, have visited the service based at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.
It had been hoped the Centre would attract 4,500 visits in its first year, but in the last 12 months Maggie’s has become known as a special place which offers free practical, emotional and social support with many wanting to use the service.
Centre head Karen Verrill said: “It has been an extraordinary first year for Maggie’s Newcastle.
“The fact we have had so many people visit the Centre shows what an incredible need there was for a Maggie’s, and our evidence based programme of support in the North East.
“The people of the area have truly made the Centre their own and I am delighted we have been here to offer a warm Maggie’s welcome to men and women of all ages.
“I am incredibly proud to be Maggie’s Newcastle Centre head and I look forward to welcoming many more people to our Centre in years to come.”
The Maggie’s Centre was officially opened by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s wife, Sarah, who is patron of the charity, and patients began accessing the service from May 16 last year.
Father-of-two Mike Ridley-Smith, 56, of Jesmond, Newcastle, was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in July last year. The business development manager, who is married to Gillian said: “The Maggie’s Centre is wonderful and it offers so much help and support to those affected by cancer and their family. Following my diagnosis my wife was in shock and it is reassuring to know that there is somewhere like Maggie’s that we can all go.
“There is nothing else like it and it is a wonderful place.”
The Maggie’s Centre is open to people of all ages and the £3m facility offers workshops on nutrition and relaxation, tai-chi, benefits advice, stress management and psychotherapy.
Dan Parkin, 21, of Wallsend, North Tyneside, was diagnosed with lymphoma in December last year and has undergone intensive treatment.
His partner Danny Daglish, 24, a bar supervisor, uses the Maggie’s Centre and has found the staff extremely helpful and supportive.
He said: “I’d recommend the Maggie’s Centre to anyone affected by cancer. It’s a place where you can sit to relax, have a cry or laugh.”