The Leukaemia And Intensive Chemotherapy Fund crack
The Leukaemia and Intensive Chemotherapy Fund (LINC) is an important local healthcare charity that works to improve the care of cancer patients in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and South Worcestershire. It was co-founded in 1998 by Dr Gill Rouse, who still works tirelessly to promote awareness of it, and Dr Robert Dalton, who sadly died from cancer at age just 49.
In 1998, the haematology department in Cheltenham General Hospital began performing stem cell transplants for leukaemia and other blood cancers and thanks to the charity now has its own dedicated hospital beds. In fact there are eight en suite rooms which have recently been fitted with flat screen HD TVs. LINC realised that the patients could be in hospital for a long time and it was important that they should feel comfortable during their stay. Many patients, particularly the self-employed, also found that the prolonged illness meant financial problems, especially at the beginning and LINC was able to help them out.
One of the first patients to benefit in 1998 had just had her first baby and had no family living locally. There was no-one who could help her look after baby while her husband spent time with her while she was in hospital. During this stressful time, LINC paid for her childcare and thankfully mum and baby are now in good health.
Initially LINC raised £30,000 to build a blood analyser and then a further £350,000 to build the outpatients suite, which enabled haematology patients to be seen whenever they wanted. The department has grown over the years and the laboratory is upstairs which makes things much more convenient. A further £120,000 was raised for a flow cytometer which helps with the diagnosis and treatment.
LINC however, doesn’t just cover Cheltenham, and while patients from Gloucester, Stroud and the Forest of Dean have to travel to Cheltenham for chemotherapy treatment at the Oncology Centre, for less intensive treatment they can visit the Edward Jenner Unit at Gloucester Royal. £450,000 was needed in order to extend the unit and up to now £200,000 had been raised. But in December, LINC was awarded a grant from the Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund of the further £250,000 needed to build the extension. LINC was awarded the grant because the Kay Kendall Fund felt that LINC worked so hard to raise money through its fundraising activities. Gill and her colleagues celebrated with a party at the Montpellier Chapter House Hotel. In spite of the award LINC is still appealing for a further £50,000 because, as Gill told me, there will always be something else they need when the time comes.
Gill, who originates from Portsmouth, came to Cheltenham in 1971 after getting married to Mike, also a doctor. He was taking up a post as a GP in Churchdown and they have lived here ever since. She has been chair of the Trustees since LINC attained charitable status in 1999.
Gill has worked in the haematology department since 1979 and has guided LINC from the beginning and been instrumental in organising the Charity Concerts featuring Jose Carreras & Bryn Terfel (2003), Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (2005), Lesley Garrett (2007) and Katherine Jenkins (2010). Having retired from clinical practice in January 2009 she now devotes her time to LINC and overseeing the LINC Charity Shop. LINC has become her life and her family’s too. She also has an amazing team working with her, she told me.
As well as raising money for treatment, research and equipment, LINC also funds a clinical psychologist who helps patients and their families to cope with their illness. LINC never stops fundraising and as well as the concerts, parachute jumps, cycle rides, the Cheltenham Carnival, an ABBA tribute band evening and monthly Lunch Clubs at various places such as Monty’s, The Daffodil and the Montpellier Chapter House Hotel, LINC can boast celebrity patrons which include Lady Apsley, Laurence & Jackie Llewelyn-Bowen and Sir Geoff Hurst MBE, as well as The Right Reverend Michael Perham – Bishop of Gloucester.
‘LINC puts the “fun” in fundraising’, says Gill and students all want to come and help with the fundraising activities. So what about the coming year? So far, on Saturday 5 February the Chip Shop Boys, the UK’s no 1 party band, will be playing at the 2nd 80s Ball at the Racecourse. Tickets are £10 each or £25 with meal, but you’ll need to hurry as tickets are selling fast.
Then on Sunday 10 April LINC has booked an airfield near Cirencester for a dedicated LINC Day 2011. You can help raise funds by making an exhilarating 10,000 feet freefall tandem parachute jump. No experience is required and if you raise the minimum amount of sponsorship - £395 - you will get to jump for free.
There is also a charity walk on 22 May and a Cycle Ride on 12 June (see website for details), but the 14 May sees the return of the Cheltenham Carnival & Fun Day in Association with Pandemonium Theatre & Education, bigger and better than ever. It goes on all day in Montpellier Gardens with the carnival procession at 4.30pm and an evening concert – more to come in April, but if you are interested in taking a stall, please contact LINC as soon as possible.
LINC are keen on research and fund the Robert Dalton Research Fellow - a post graduate student studying for either an MSc or a PhD in a cancer related subject.
If you would like to read more about the charity, have a friend or relative suffering from leukaemia, would like to organise your own event in aid of LINC or help in other ways, please visit the website at http://www.lincfund.org and get in touch.
Cheltenham General Hospital
Telephone 08454 224422