• Out and About

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    21 June 2015

    I was flat out in the constituency last week. Amongst other activities, I had the great pleasure of opening a fundraiser in a beautiful garden facing out towards Dartmoor. Despite the absence of any real sunshine the view was spectacular. A perfect setting for an optimistic and upbeat event (well the local brass band was there) organised by FORCE a superb charity that fundraises for the care and support of those diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is a subject that has perhaps been rather taboo until recent times and one that I think we should discuss more often. The term cancer is applied to a group of diseases that involve abnormal cell growth and it can manifest itself in virtually any part of the anatomy. It has been with us for all of human history. The earliest surviving written reference is to breast cancer and appears in an Egyptian medical text from around 1600 BC. It has been historically viewed with considerable dread. But the idea of cancer as an impending death sentence has changed dramatically over recent years as earlier detection and better treatments have borne down on mortality rates. People today are surviving and beating it with ever-greater frequency. There is much more to do of course – in the UK someone is diagnosed with cancer every 2 minutes and worldwide cancer is the cause of around 15% of deaths. In the developed world, rates of some forms of the disease are increasing as we live longer (cancer is often age-related) and as our lifestyles have become less healthy (poor diet and less exercise). Smoking alone accounts for 1 in 5 cases of all cancers and 1 in 4 cases of all cancer deaths in the UK. 

    FORCE was founded in 1987 and has spent years raising money to support those living with cancer along with their friends and families. The excellent information centre at the RD&E owes its existence to their fundraising efforts. The centre provides emotional and physical support and there is also an outreach service that visits Crediton and Okehampton once a week. The service is free and you do not need to have a referral to attend. Opening times are weekdays 9:30am until 4:30pm and 6:30pm on Wednesdays. The charity has also raised over £2.5 million for new cutting edge life saving equipment, which is now in use at the hospital. The centre can be reached on 01392 406151.

    Last week I also had the pleasure of joining Sue Wonnacott, Pat Sawyer and their team to help raise the profile of the amazing work of Okehampton Community Transport, a community led ring and ride supported by Devon County Council. We met many local people keen to learn more about their services. Their army of volunteer drivers ferry people around between appointments and provide a vital service especially for those who find it physically hard to get about and for those facing limited local public transport. The group can be reached on 01837 55000.