Read Our Story
In 1997, concern was expressed by some of the clinicians at Wrexham Maelor Hospital over the treatment pathway for some cancer patients.
The North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre had been opened in Ysbyty Glan Clwyd (YGC), but patients had to travel to the centre for chemotherapy as well as for radiotherapy. The patients managed at YGC could be treated locally, and a ward had been set aside in Ysbyty Gwynedd to deliver chemotherapy locally leaving only the Wrexham and Flintshire patients having to travel. There was a severe shortage of outpatient facilities in Wrexham including inadequate facilities for a women’s clinic.
Mr Michael Crumplin FRCS suggested building a local cancer support unit and was instrumental in setting up a fund raising appeal. This project was agreed to, with the proviso that clinics for managing diseases of female patients were incorporated into the unit. The project operated as a charity entitled Wrexham Maelor Hospital’s Shooting Star Appeal. On 1st October 1998 a professional appeals manager, Julie Hinchliffe, was appointed. In 1999, Lady Gladstone of Hawarden was accepted as the President of the Board of Patrons. Also in 1999, Mrs Nonna Woodward became Chair of the Project and Fund-raising group. It was decided to name the facility the Shooting Star Project (and Unit) – Apel Seren Wib. A board of trustees was set up and charitable status obtained. Legal and Financial links with the NHS Trust were established and ran smoothly over the next 15 years until the charity discontinued its formal financial links with the NHS. It now runs independently but has seamless joint ventures with Wrexham Maelor Hospital and Shooting Star Unit
Fund raising took place with many very successful ventures which led to £500,000 being raised by early 2001. A very generous donation of £1.4m was given by the New Opportunities Fund. The project was enthusiastically supported by the NHS Trust and its finance department, North Wales Newspapers, The Maelor League of Friends, Rotary, donors, schools, local groups and most importantly the general public. By October 2002, the charitable fund stood at £2.5 million and had overshot the projected cost of building the unit. The building proceeded and was enhanced by locally produced superb works of art and gardening schemes, the object of which was to provide a calming and relaxed environment in which to be seen and treated with a diagnosis of cancer.
On the 13th April 2005 the Shooting Star Unit was opened by the Duke of York. Mrs Nonna Woodward took the Chair of the Board of Trustees. A major step forward in helping patients treated here is that the Charity was instrumental in funding the Macmillan information centre run by Mrs Pam Wedley. The Shooting Star Unit has worked extremely well and indeed has been such a success that there are now more patients needing to be treated than can be accommodated.
In December 2012, Mr David Parry succeeded Mrs Nonna Woodward as Chair of the Board of Trustees. Under his chairmanship, the charity has evolved into looking at more than just providing equipment. Part of that evolution is the creation of this website. The formation of the website sees a change in name to Shooting Star Cancer Support, and as its role has evolved the charity is now financially independent of the NHS. The NHS is under severe financial strain throughout the UK and it is not able to fund everything that it would like to. Our role is to fund pieces of equipment that are difficult for the NHS to provide, and which allow optimisation of the journey for the patient through their diagnosis or their treatment.
We are currently hoping to contribute to an expansion of the Shooting Star Unit itself as the space available is now inadequate, despite the best efforts of the nurses who have made huge changes to their working practices in order to accommodate as many patients as possible. This is work in progress.
How your donations have been spent
Since building the Shooting Star Unit, the charity has funded more than 60 projects amounting to over £1 million, the main 20 projects of which amount to £600,000 (see making a difference). This charity is independent and is separate from Awyr Las NHS charity. Our focus is on cancer patients who are being treated at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, or by their clinicians. The charity is administered by a volunteer Board of Trustees under the chairmanship of Mr David Parry. Projects funded are those that enhance the pathway for patients undergoing either diagnosis or treatment for cancer by directly funding equipment that is difficult for the NHS to provide due to its financial constraints.