Official Opening of the Macmillan Support Centre at Atlnagelvin


Official Opening of the Macmillan Support Centre at AtlnagelvinActor, writer and director, Adrian Dunbar has most recently been on our screens as Superintendent Ted Hastings in the BBC drama, Line of Duty.  A native of Enniskillen, he was delighted to attend the Official Opening of the Health and Wellbeing Campus at Altnagelvin Hospital  as guest speaker.  The Health and Wellbeing Campus is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, developed in partnership by Macmillan Cancer Support and the Western Health and Social Care Trust  (Western Trust).

Adrian said, ‘Having lived away from Northern Ireland for many years, it’s a very positive experience for me to travel home and see developments like this Campus at Altnagelvin.  I’ve had the privilege of talking with many people from the local area today, some of whom are living with cancer and accessing services on the Campus, as well as staff and volunteers.  I heard from the Macmillan team that almost one in two of us will face cancer in our lifetime – that’s a staggering statistic.  It’s so important for people to have the right support at what can be a life-changing time.’

The Campus incorporates a state-of-the-art Macmillan Support Centre and the recently refurbished Agnes Jones House.  It supports people affected by cancer and other long-term conditions in the Western Trust, as well as people from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Health and Social Care Trust who are attending the Northwest Cancer Centre for treatment.  Services include information and signposting to local services, counselling, hairdressing and wig service, breast prosthesis fitting, complementary therapies, gentle exercise and welfare benefits advice.

Paula Kealey, Strategic Partnership Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support was delighted to welcome Adrian to the event, and said, “A diagnosis of cancer can impact on all aspects of life - physical, practical, emotional and financial - and can be devastating.  When people get the right support and information, tailored to their personal experience and circumstances, it helps them to deal with their diagnosis.   At the Campus, important services are brought together in one place, making it easier for people to find the support they need.”

Tara Boyle is the Macmillan Health and Well Being Campus Manager and like Adrian, hails from the Western Trust area too.  She has managed the development of the Campus from the beginning of the project, but her story took a poignant twist when Tara received a devastating cancer diagnosis herself.

She said, “I was diagnosed with cancer last summer, just weeks before the Health and Wellbeing Campus was due to open.  While I have always felt privileged to work on a project like the Campus, I feel that I developed an even greater sense of perspective.  I was lucky that, because of my job, I knew a lot about the information and support available to me, but even so, it was still a very challenging time for me, my family and my friends.

“Many people find dealing with a cancer diagnosis very confusing and isolating.   It made me realise just how important it is to have this Campus locally, where there is a wide range of services to support people’s holistic needs.  It’s important for people to know that there is somewhere to go, someone to listen and lots of support to help people deal with their questions and concerns.  I’ve been back to work since last October and I’m delighted to see how much of an impact and difference the Campus is already making.”

Chairman of the Western Trust, Mr Niall Birthistle said:   “It is a great honour to be present at the official opening of the Macmillan Health and Wellbeing Centre.  This superb facility is already demonstrating its worth to our local and cross border cancer patients.  When anyone is diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening condition, worries about loss of income or benefits and how treatments may impact on lifestyle, can create extra anxiety to an already difficult situation. Access to good quality, trustworthy advise and information provides assurance and can improve a patient’s overall wellbeing and outlook. 

“I congratulate Macmillan for having the foresight and for bringing their first Health and Wellbeing Centre to the Altnagelvin Hospital site.  The new facility is a short walk from the North West Cancer Centre, Northern Ireland’s second facility dedicated to cancer care. Having a place to come and learn about living with and beyond a cancer diagnosis is really important to our patients and their families, we are extremely grateful to Macmillan for this”