BRIGHTER Futures has smashed its £2.9million radiotherapy appeal target.

And it’s thanks to the generosity of Swindon Advertiser readers, who have raised thousands for the campaign since it was launched in 2015.

A £175,000 pledge from Swindon and Wiltshire Rotary clubs took the appeal to its target. The cash will help kit out a new radiotherapy unit at Great Western Hospital, saving cancer patients a gruelling 70 mile round trip for treatment in Oxford.

Catherine Newman, head of fundraising at GWH, thanked all those who have donated to one of the Swindon hospital’s biggest ever appeals.


'I have to keep pinching myself'

“We knew this day would come eventually, but it just doesn’t feel real. I have to keep pinching myself,” she told the Swindon Advertiser.

“We’ve been amazed by the incredible people who have raised money for the campaign.

“Little children have given up their Christmas presents to donate to the radiotherapy appeal. Older people asked for donations rather than presents for milestone birthdays.

“We’ve met so many amazing people over the course of this campaign. Sadly, we’ve lost some close friends as well.”

Julie 'would have been proud'

Among them was mum-of-two Julie Basleigh, who died last summer after a two year battle with brain cancer. The 40-year-old chronicled her cancer fight and raised money for Brighter Futures, all the time undergoing invasive brain surgeries and extensive chemotherapy.


Julie’s sister, Lisa Drew, said yesterday: “Julie would have been really pleased and I think she would have been proud she’s still part of the campaign, with the slideshows she produced for the appeal.

“The new radiotherapy unit is going to make such a difference to those people who won’t have to travel to Oxford. It will make their lives so much easier at a difficult time.”

READ MORE: Radiotherapy Centre waiting for green light from Department of Health

READ MORE: How the appeal unfolded

Adver reader support

The Swindon Advertiser has followed the campaign since it was launched by Great Western Hospital three years ago.

Fundraising chief Catherine had a special message for readers who have helped raise thousands: “We want to thank all the readers of the Swindon Advertiser. They’ve been brilliant, they’ve really got behind us and the battle cry.”

Pete Gavan, Adver editor, added his thanks: “It’s down to our readers’ generosity that the hospital has been able to reach this milestone. The new radiotherapy unit will help scores of Swindon residents every day.”

On average, 10 people are diagnosed with cancer every day at GWH. Catherine said: “The sad reality is that cancer affects one in three of the UK population and the number of incidents is predicted to rise by 16 per cent over the next ten years.”

Backing from Rotary

Over the years, Swindon and Wiltshire residents have held skydives, organised cake sales and sponsored head shaves – with all the cash going to Brighter Futures.

But it was a £175,000 grant from the Rotary that carried the appeal over the line. In total, the Rotary clubs of Swindon and Wiltshire have donated a third of a million pounds.

Peter Wells, chairman of the regional District Rotary Foundation, said: “This campaign was about local people, taking action to achieve good locally. That was very attractive to us as Rotarians. The whole objective of Rotary is traditionally to do good in the world. We’ve done things internationally, but here in Swindon there was a huge need for people to be able to access cancer treatment in the town and not travel to Oxford.

“Rotarians are like everyone else. We’ve all been touched at various points by cancer.

“We believe in serving our community. This appeal was for a specific radiotherapy machine that was really important – and it was a one-off opportunity. If we didn’t get the money together it wouldn’t happen.”


Roy Parkinson, chairman of Old Town Rotary Club, added: “We’ve been supporters of Brighter Futures ever since the plan was mooted. To see it over the line now is good for everybody. Everyone knows somebody who has had to do this awful commute to Oxford.

“I can’t think of anything that we could have done that would have been more supportive to the town of Swindon than support Brighter Futures.”

'It's absolutely fantastic'

Cancer survivors added their own congratulations.

David Young, whose cross-Europe motorcycle ride raised £5,300 to the appeal, said: It’s absolutely fantastic. What I did with that bike ride was a small drop in the ocean. It’s an amazing achievement.

“It will make a huge difference, not having to travel. It’s bad enough feeling as ill as you do, without having all the added stress.”

Roger Hill, chairman of Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We can’t thank everyone enough for helping Brighter Futures achieve the ambitious goal of raising £2.9 million to help equip the new Radiotherapy Centre. The centre will be an incredible testament to the commitment of local people working together to improve the lives of cancer patients and their families in our community.”

Extra cash will go to new breast cancer appeal

Catherine Newman said: "For those who have fundraising events planned later in the year or early next year for the radiotherapy appeal will have their donations go towards supporting the wider cancer services at the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“This important additional funding will help us to expand our Breast Centre in the early diagnosis of cancer, fund important clinical trials in detecting the spread of cancer and support our urology department. This early diagnosis work will feed into the new radiotherapy services and create a holistic cancer services for our local communities.”