A cancer support group in Hartlepool will be heading on a day trip to Whitby this month thanks to help from local charity the PFC Trust.
The West View Advice and Resource Centre (WVARC) Cancer Support Group meets for a couple of hours every Tuesday morning from 10am and is designed to provide comfort and respite for anyone touched by the illness.
Around 30 people regularly attend the morning get-togethers which include activities such as bowling and a quiz as well as coffee and cakes.
And since the group was set up in 2017, the members regularly head out on day trips, visit the theatre or are even treated to fish and chips to keep people smiling.
Robert Booth, Alan Foreman, Steve Fleetham and Cath Steele are the core members fundraising for the group.
Secretary Robert, 73, who has battled with oesophagus cancer since 2016 himself, said: “I know just how important a group like this is because of my own experiences.
“We are a great bunch of people here and every one of us has been affected by cancer in some shape or form. Everyone accepts what they have and we are here to get on with life.
“What this group does is it takes away some of the stress of appointments, what the next hospital visit might throw up. We are a rowdy bunch too, who have a laugh with each other.”
Although based at the WVARC on Miers Avenue, the Cancer Support Group is now autonomous and responsible for its own funds.
Rob, from Seaton Carew, has been integral to the fundraising push in recent years, which has led to money being donated by the PFC Trust that will go towards the coach trip to Whitby on August 30 and more.
Pat North, 65, has Stage A leukaemia and loves having a smile on her face when she meets up with the group.
She said: “Memories are huge when you have been given news you have cancer. It is about making friends, having a good time and creating memories - presents don’t mean as much. It is about being happy because it takes away some of the stress.
“I have been coming for just over a year. I came here, with all of these faces welcoming me when I was scared. They’d all been through the same things as I had been going through and it made a massive difference.”
The PFC Trust’s Joe Dunne visited the site and was thanked for the charity’s donation.
He said: “The PFC Trust family have all been affected by cancer at different times in their lives. Coming along here makes you realise just how important such a group like this is.”
Val Evens, the WVARC manager, founded the Cancer Support Group six years ago. Her office is just next door to the main hall where they gather and she appreciates exactly what sort of impact the get-togethers have on each other.
Val, who had breast cancer herself, said: “What started as a general support group has developed and introduced activities such as bowls, the sticky card game and fun. Rob started to do activities such as the quiz.
“Over the last 12 months we have held a Jubilee party, the King’s Coronation party and they have been to Beamish, York, the theatre – even had Christmas lunch at the Marine Hotel and fish and chips at Seaton. It’s lovely to see.
“Every Tuesday morning we feel this centre comes to life. We can hear them laughing, playing games and as staff here we can hear that – they are such an uplifting group in spite of what they are going through.”