We thank you and are thinking of you

Dear Ark supporters

I hope that you and your family and friends are keeping well in these challenging times.

As we approach Christmas, and the end of a year that has been like no other in recent memory, on behalf of all at Ark Cancer Centre Charity, I want to send you seasonal greetings, and to thank you for your ongoing support. I also want to say that we are all thinking of you. We know that this Christmas will be unlike any we have experienced, and that for many people, it will be a particularly difficult and challenging time.

It is hard to believe what has unfolded over the last 12 months as all of our lives have been transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While this has sadly been the worst of times for many people and families, the public reaction to the pandemic has also brought out the very best in people. Our amazing NHS workers, carers and other key workers have gone the extra mile, and then some, and communities have really come together to help and support each other. It feels like the spirit of Christmas has been all around us for much of 2020.

Like all charities, Ark Cancer Centre Charity has been adversely impacted by the pandemic. Public fundraising events, including our key Ark Day 2020 campaign, have had to be cancelled. We are grateful to all those who have still embarked on, or supported, fundraising initiatives for Ark during 2020 – your support means a lot.

Despite the considerable challenges presented by the impact of COVID-19, I am pleased to say that significant progress has been made by Ark and our Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) colleagues this year in working towards our key goal – improving care and support for cancer patients and their loved ones.

In June, work started on the well-being and supportive care centre in the existing Radiotherapy Unit at Basingstoke hospital, and I am delighted to say that the construction part of the project is very near completion.

The well-being and supportive care centre has been funded by Ark Cancer Centre Charity, and Ark will also be funding the supportive care and complementary therapies that will be provided to cancer patients and their families and carers in the new facilities.

In addition, Ark Cancer Centre Charity will fund the hire of rooms in The Ark Conference Centre for educational meetings that will enhance the support given to cancer patients and their families. Ark will also provide funding for key support staff, all of whom will enhance delivery of vital care and support to cancer patients. HHFT is not in a position to fund any of these posts.

All of the above adds up to a significant milestone. It will mean that, for the first time, HHFT will be able to provide radiotherapy, supportive care, and complementary therapies in a calm, relaxing and modern environment – an important step forward that also begins to fulfil the aims of Ark Cancer Centre Charity. You have helped to make this happen, and we should all be proud of this achievement.

The ongoing impact of the pandemic, and the work being done to get all the care and support services operational, means that the opening of the well-being and supportive care centre will now happen in 2021. When it does open, we look forward to inviting Ark supporters along so you can see how your donations have made a difference.

As you know, HHFT’s long-standing commitment is to deliver a state-of-the-art cancer treatment centre, and this goal is part of the Hampshire Together programme focusing on the creation, and delivery, of a new hospital that will be built in or near Basingstoke between 2024 and 2030.

You can read all about the Hampshire Together programme at hampshiretogether.nhs.uk. Two sites have now been shortlisted as the possible location for the new hospital, and the late Spring of 2021 will hopefully see the start of a period of crucial public consultation focusing on these locations and the clinical options for delivering future hospital services in the HHFT area.

From the outset, Ark and many of its supporters have been involved in the engagement and consultation process, and I would encourage everyone to have their say in helping to shape this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform hospital and health care services in the HHFT area.

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact Mark Jones, Ark’s director of fundraising and communications, on mark.jones@arkcancercharity.org.uk or 07885 378582, and he will be happy to help and respond. As always, updates will continue to appear on Ark Cancer Centre Charity’s social media channels and website.

Thanks again for your wonderful support. Myself, my fellow trustees, and the Ark Cancer Centre Charity team hope you have a peaceful and healthy Christmas, and we wish you all the best for a positive 2021.

Kind regards and best wishes

Merv

Myrddin (Merv) Rees MS FRCS DL DSc, Ark Cancer Centre Charity Trustee