Here at Weston Park Cancer Charity, we aim to create a better life for everyone living with cancer, both now and in the future, but we cannot achieve that ambition on our own.
This Volunteers’ Week, we are shining a spotlight on the huge difference our volunteers make to the lives of those affected by cancer and we think the best way to find out about our work is to hear directly from the people who give up their time.
People like Steve, Kate and Carl.
A number of my wife’s friends and family had sadly lost their battles with cancer and because of this, when I saw volunteers collecting for Weston Park Cancer Charity, I always made an effort to donate.
All our sons have fundraised over the years, too and last October, we cheered on our son, Carl as he took on his first marathon support of the Charity. I was very proud of what he achieved, especially considering the atrocious weather conditions, but when Carl booked the marathon, little did we know I would be a patient.
Being diagnosed with cancer was the worst day of my life. The first time I walked into Weston Park Cancer Centre, I was terrified of what I would see, but to my surprise, everyone looked ‘normal’ and cheerful and all the staff were so friendly and immediately put me at ease; it was nothing like I had envisioned.
During my last 16 days of treatment, I was an inpatient, as it had taken a real toll on my body. It was during this time that we decided, as a family, we would like to ‘give something back’ to this critical cause.
On the 21 December 2018, I rang the end of treatment bell. It was like winning the lottery and I had all my family and the staff from Weston Park Cancer Charity and Cancer Support Centre by my side, which was above and beyond.
Every time I had an appointment, we would pop into the Charity office to discuss how we could help and as time went on, we got to know the Charity team very well and felt like we were very much needed. So when the opportunity came to volunteer in support of the vital care and treatment I (and so many others) receive(d), we jumped at the chance.
Initially, my wife, Kate and a family friend helped to bucket collect at the Weston Park Cancer Charity Derby Day takeover at SWFC, as unfortunately, l was not well enough. She was buzzing after the event and I couldn’t wait for my recovery to progress so that I could get stuck in.
My first volunteering role was at bucket collection at Barnsley FC. Young and old donated and when they did I asked: “have you been affected by cancer in any way?” and 99% told me why they were giving. That’s when I knew that this event would not be my last.
At the beginning of May, we returned to Oakwell Stadium as my son, Carl was taking part in a Charity football match, but this time, I would be making my debut appearance as Westie the Dog.
Over the years, I have been a number of different mascots and though I knew I wasn’t really fit enough, I didn’t let that put me off and when asked, I said: “why not, anything for a laugh”.
I spent the day waving, high fiving and posing for photos (when the photographer said “everyone smile”, for some strange reason, I had a massive grin on my face under the head) and when Carl’s team scored I was on the field with my arms out like an aeroplane. My grandson, Lucas helped me get ready and I told him once I had the suit on I was Westie the Dog, not granddad Steve; he loved it. It won’t be the last you see of me (sorry, Westie) that’s for sure.
Next on the agenda (when I’m fit enough), my youngest son, Craig and I are going to take on the Big Jump.
People may ask me: “why do you do all of these things? And my answer is: Weston Park has given our family a husband, dad and grandad. Thank you to everyone from the bottom of my heart.
Weston Park Cancer Centre has been part of our lives for many years now, having had several family members attend for cancer treatment and care services.
Last year, my husband Steve was diagnosed with cancer and since then, it’s made us realise just how much Weston Park Cancer Charity do for not only patients, but their families, too.
I have always donated when our sons have taken on different fundraising challenges and our grandson, Ciaran even braved the shave in support of the charity, which is a big thing for a 14 year old!
I decided to become a volunteer to give something back to Weston Park; a few hours every now and then is nothing for what they have given us – my husband’s life.
Being a volunteer means you get to meet lots of different people; some want to stop and talk about what Weston Park means to them, others ask why you’re giving up your time – and yes, some make you cry, but others make you laugh and I think it’s always good to talk.
Without volunteers, Weston Park Cancer Charity wouldn’t be able to continue the work that they do, so if you are reading this and thinking: “do I want to become a volunteer?” please give it a shot. You’ll really enjoy it – I know I do – and you’ll make lots of new friends.
Over the years, I have fundraised for a number of different charities, but have never been able to see directly where the money goes and how it supports people.
But that all changed when my dad, Steve became an inpatient at Weston Park Cancer Centre and I got to sees first-hand the reason places like this need support.
It really hit home to see what patients and their families are actually going through, and all of the staff were amazing with Steve, and still are to this day. It has been a real eye opener to see the vital services funded by charitable donations, and how that supports so many patients.
Steve’s character has always left a lasting impression on people, and it was great to see so many staff from Weston park Cancer Charity to the Weston Park Cancer Support Centre come and support him when he rang the end of treatment bell. Despite his diagnosis, one positive we can draw from it all is that we’ve all made new friends for life.
I recently volunteered at a bucket collection at Barnsley FC and it became apparent very quickly that there are so many people cancer affects across our region, and in so many different ways.
By giving up your time, you can make a huge difference to someone’s quality of life and care and it has been humbling to be given an opportunity to hear other people’s success stories, as well as the sadder side.
to anyone considering becoming a volunteer and supporting Weston Park Cancer Charity: DO IT. Even if it’s a couple of hours a month or helping at a one off event, all of this soon adds up and the benefits to the patients and families makes it all worthwhile.
We have lots of plans for the rest of 2019. Watch this space!