Advent calendar sparks thoughts of the season

on Monday, 11 December 2017. Tags Blog, cancer, CancerCare, Kendal, Lancaster, northlancashire

Chief Executive, Neil's Weekly Blog

Good morning. Well, 11 windows on my advent calendar opened already!

Our calendar is a Christian one with each window telling the biblical story.


It’s amazing, irrespective of anybody’s individual beliefs, how it is making me stop and think about this season, despite the frenzy of activity that seems to take over everyone at this time of the year.

Monday was the date of our last trustee meeting of the year. We had an agenda that was dominated by two main items, one was the plans for the trustee away day taking place next month.

A large part of that day will be spent considering our future direction and the strategies that will help us get there, be it in terms of service development, fundraising, investment, sustainability or growth. The trustees who have a wealth of experience, continue along with the SMT (Senior Management Team) to guide our future plans.

The second item was to note and express approval for the work being undertaken to prepare the charity for GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) next year.

On a sadder note, the trustees accepted reluctantly the resignation, due to other conflicting issues, of Tony Gatrell who has been a trustee for four years. It was Tony who was a big influencer in the development of our Barrow service and we will miss his contribution greatly.

Our thanks to Tony, pictured (below) next to Andrea at the Phoenix Ball earlier this year

While we are on the subject of trustees, one of our more recent recruits, Peter Harrison, has made an amazing contribution alongside his work colleagues from FGH security, not only donating salaries to CancerCare and time to help with events like Santa Dash, but donating some new play equipment for our Children and Young Person’s service. A massive thank you to team FGH!

Team FGH with Alison and I.

On Tuesday I was pleased to be hosting, along with Sue Thompson from Rosemere and Jeannette Smalley from CancerHelp, the annual Cancer Support Group conference and Christmas lunch. It was a cracking day, with a range of really interesting speakers, including our very own Andrea talking about the “Power of Online”. The conference attracted 100 members from different cancer support groups from across Lancashire and Cumbria and was a great way to say a massive thank you to all they do to help and support each other throughout the year.

550 is a number that will stick in my mind for a while. This is the number of mince pies that we served up at our annual Christmas Fair, held at Leighton Hall.

We had more than 500 people attending - the largest number in a long time and it was simply a great day. A massive thank you to all those helping either on the day or behind the scenes, before and after the event. Thank you especially to Helen and of course our hostess Suzie Reynolds. The total amount raised was £4,200.

On Thursday the SMT (Senior Management Team) spent some time doing highly detailed work on our next Three Year Strategy and Plan. Further feedback to all staff teams, key partners, stakeholders and a questionnaire to current clients are all planned in the New Year.

Thank you to Kim and Kate, plus other staff and volunteers who have decorated the centres for Christmas, they look warm and inviting for all our visitors.

On Friday I attended the first of a number of Christmas lunches (not good for my waistline!) It was the Chamber of Commerce members lunch and an opportunity to spend time with many local business contacts, a number of which are CancerCare supporters. After this it is the Morecambe Bay Strategic Cancer Group who are meeting in Lancaster to sign of their implementation plan for 2018.

At home Alanand I have been decorating our Christmas tree and hosting our relatives for lunch. Whatever you are doing over the next few days, wrap up warm and take care!

Neil Townsend, CEO