A CHARITY which has raised more than £1 million for breast cancer patients has closed.
The Huddersfield Royal Infirmary Breast Clinic Appeal donated its last £20,000 after trustees decided to close the charity, which was founded in 1989 by New Mill man Bill Exley.
Those behind the appeal say the generosity of Huddersfield folk meant it had “far surpassed expectations”.
Click below to see some of the people and groups who have contributed over the years.Related content
Appeal chairman John Woodhead said: “In a way I feel a certain sadness to be winding up the charity, but I’m sure that we have achieved so much more than Bill Exley ever imagined.
“The kindness and generosity of the people of Huddersfield and surrounding districts has always astonished the trustees of the charity, on whose behalf I would like to offer our heartfelt gratitude to all who have supported us over the years.”
The appeal was founded when Mr Exley’s first wife, Joyce, was a patient at HRI. She sadly died and Mr Exley saw the need to boost spirits on the ward.
In 1989 he raised funds to buy three TVs for patients – ten months later the appeal funded a £15,000 ultrasound scanner.
Mr Exley and Dr Ron Jameson led the appeal, working with Consultant Richard Sainsbury. John Woodhead, then managing director of Standard Fireworks, got on board as trustee and chairman.
The appeal became a registered charity with Bernard Ainsworth, Andrew Hale and Glenn Paxman joining the trustees. The same team led the appeal to the end, raising £1 million – and they never took a penny in expenses.
An early aim was to raise £250,000 to fund 50% of the breast cancer unit. The appeal raised £300,000 and without it there would have been no oncology service at HRI at that time.
Donations poured in and the appeal funded £100,000 of research, modernised ward 3 oncolocy/breast care unit to the tune of £300,000 and funded palliative exercise classes and post-operative yoga classes for 13 years. It bought scanners and radiology machines.
But it wasn’t always smooth-running. The appeal team’s plan to fund the re-design of HRI’s lower ground floor breast clinic was rejected by hospital bosses and part way through a bid to turn ward 3 into a 100% breast care unit it was dropped.
The Exley Breast Unit, which the charity was so proud of, was used by more than breast cancer patients and the team admit they were disappointed when surgery was moved to Calderdale Royal Hospital.
Mr Woodhead added: “At this stage the trustees were totally frustrated and might well have closed the charity down, except for the fact we had a number of ongoing commitments.”
In 2008 the appeal team stopped fundraising, but money remained in the bank which they wanted to benefit the patients it was intended for.
The trustees developed a good relationship with consultant radiologists Dr Narender Jain and Dr Jonathan Joffe and they donated funds to upgrade equipment in the breast radiography department.
Mr Woodhead added: “We thought carefully about what to do with the remaining money and we have been assured that it will be ring-fenced to benefit breast cancer patients in Huddersfield, which was the intention all those years ago.”
Post-operative yoga classes will be funded by the appeal until the end of 2014. The balance is being transferred to the Green Lea Oncology Trust Fund.
“Around £1m has been raised since Bill Exley began in 1989, all of which has been spent in and around HRI,” Mr Woodhead added.
“Dr Joffe has done a tremendous job for Green Lea and we wish him and his team all the best.”
Dr Joffe welcomed the donation, saying: “The fund does get donations but it’s unusual to get a donation of this size.
“It’s very pleasing for us – the appeal played an important role in setting up the unit in the first place.”
He said the fund, managed by nursing staff, would decide later this year how to spend the £20,000.
Every year 250 breast cancer patients are seen within the trust, most will have surgical procedures and half will have radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy.