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Call for east Antrim volunteers to drive cancer patients to appointments

A kind Newtownabbey resident, who volunteers as a driver for Cancer Focus, is urging other members of the public to support the initative as the service is expanded to Antrim, Ballymena and Larne.

The charity is looking for volunteers who have the time to offer a lift to cancer patients who need to get to and from their hospital appointments.

The service has been running since 2010 in Belfast and the South Eastern Health Trust and provides an invaluable service to people who cannot drive to appointments and can’t rely on someone else to take them.

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Gordon from Newtownabbey has been a volunteer driver with Cancer Focus NI since 2013.

Cancer Focus NI.

He said: “A few months before I was to retire from a 40-year stretch working in a local bank, I decided that I needed to do something worthwhile once I retired in September 2013.

“At the time, Cancer Focus (then called Ulster Cancer Foundation), was the bank’s nominated charity to support. Having lost family members to cancer it seemed obvious to see if I could do something with Cancer Focus. After contacting them, and reviewing the possibilities, the driving service seemed to be the best fit for me.

“I can’t deny I was apprehensive on my first lift - I didn’t know how ill the person would be and what to expect. I needn’t have worried. From the first lift and subsequent ones, the overriding message from everyone is gratitude. It had never occurred to me there are people on their own who don’t drive or need to be careful and avoid public transport, or for whom it would cost a fortune to use taxis for up to 5 days of treatment a week.

“I have met many lovely people, had good chats and a laugh. You are under no obligation to give a lift if the days or times don’t suit. It’s one of the best things I have done and very rewarding. Give it a go!”

Marion Kerr, Volunteer Driving Service Coordinator, Cancer Focus NI, added: “This service provides cancer patients, who may face many hospital visits, with essential transport to and from their appointments. Getting to and from these regular appointments can cause additional worry and anxiety for people undergoing cancer treatment.

“We are lucky to have amazing volunteers who help remove this stress and provide an empathetic and friendly service. Full training and support is given and the more volunteer drivers we have on board the more cancer patients we can help in your local community.

“To be able to support people in Antrim, Ballymena and Larne we need local volunteer drivers in these areas. We’d really appreciate your help, so please get in touch.”

Anyone interested in volunteering with the service, is aged over 21, has a full, clean driving licence and access to a comfortable and roadworthy car, is asked to email Marion at [email protected] or call on 028 90 66 32 81.

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