SWINDON should back a “once-in-a-generation” bid for a new cancer fighting unit, a hospital boss has said.

Catherine Newman, head of fundraising at the Great Western Hospital, has urged people to get behind the radiotherapy appeal.

The hospital needs to raise £2.9m to kit out a state-of-the-art new radiotherapy centre in Swindon.

The centre would save cancer sufferers an excruciating 70-mile round trip to Oxford’s Churchill Hospital.

Catherine said: “We’ve waited for such a long time as a town for this centre. All of us know someone who has had to do that awful journey to Oxford.”

For Catherine it’s a personal fight. She lost her dad and both grandfathers to cancer.

“I’m sick of cancer taking away the people I love,” she said. “It makes me even more determined to fight it myself and see the centre built for everyone who’s going through what I have done.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. It’s not going to come round again.”

Fundraisers are just £90,0000 off their target of raising £2m by Christmas Day. Last week, the Adver joined with Brighter Futures – asking people to donate just £1 to the campaign.

Catherine said of the appeal: “It’s going really well. We’re nervously excited.

“Since the launch of the £1 campaign we’ve had people stopping us as we’ve been walking around the hospital, saying ‘Here’s my pound’.”

They include one consultant doctor, who squared the fundraisers with his eyes and asked them if they were from the Brighter Futures team – before handing over a pound coin.

“It’s been crazy,” added Catherine – who said that the team had been inundated with donation forms. “We’re edging ever closer to the £2m target. It’s within reach. We’re hoping people will get us over the line.”

Since last Thursday, Brighter Futures have received more than £600 in text donations alone.

Catherine said: “It’s these smaller sacrifices that are going to get us over the line.”

She spoke of older people who have donated cash from their winter fuel allowance to help get the new radiotherapy centre built.

The fundraising chief urged Swindon to stay with the campaign: “Stick with us. We’re so close – it’s the final push.”

Michelle Tompkins, deputy editor of the Swindon Advertiser, said: “The Brighter Futures appeal is something the people of Swindon have really taken to their hearts.

“Imagine how fantastic it would be to read that the appeal has reached the £2m mark for Christmas. It would put a smile on everyone’s faces to know we have reached such a massive milestone.”

To donate £1 to the Brighter Futures radiotherapy appeal, text SWIN01 £1 to 70070. If you’d like to donate more send the text SWIN01 £5 or SWIN01 £10 to the same number.

Texts are free for Vodafone customers. Those on other networks will pay their normal text charge.