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North Hampshire Prostate Cancer Support Group

December 2018

2018 - A Retrospective

We take a look back at what has happened in 2018, covering the main events affecting our Group.

In February, the exercise group celebrated its second anniversary. An article and picture in the ‘Basingstoke Gazette’ showcased the success of the class. This made sure that the anniversary event did not go unnoticed and, at the same time, provided information about the Group. As we fast approach a third anniversary, the class goes from strength to strength.

In April, two Committee members (the Chairman, Alan Instone, and the Publicity Officer, Ken Woolgar) were interviewed on Basingstoke local ‘Breeze Radio’. They particularly emphasized the importance of men and their partners watching out for symptoms and, if concerned, talking to their GPs.

The first big event in our social calendar also happened in April. The Spring Fling extravaganza took place on a Saturday evening. It challenged many members to recall the dance steps of their youth. The spectacle outshone ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ in many interesting respects. The programme varied from waltz, to swing, to jive, with a ‘Gay Gordon’ thrown in for good measure.

The third anniversary of the formation of the Group was celebrated in August 2018. In three short years, the number of members has grown considerably. The hunt for suitable meeting venues was once again a priority item for the Committee. A move from the Weybrook Park Golf Club to Loddon Vale Indoor Bowling Club Basingstoke was agreed.  The new venue should give some elbow room to absorb future growth, if necessary.

Only three awareness events had originally been planned covering Basingstoke Sports Centre, the ‘Malls’ shopping centre and the Sainsbury’s Depot. For various reasons, the number of events more than doubled!  We were particularly glad to be able to join the Basingstoke Afro-Caribbean Society for their celebration of ‘Windrush 70’ in September. .  An appearance at the Hospital sponsored ‘Urology Awareness Month’ was also organized in September.

We also took part in the Macmillan Cancer Support ‘Living With and Beyond Cancer’ events and set up our stall, along with many other voluntary organizations, in Basingstoke, (at the Apollo) , and at a similar event in Andover.

In late August, we successfully launched our own website (www.nhpcsg.org.uk). Elements are still under development but our aim is for it to provide our members, and others, with information about the Group generally. The website gives an easy way of getting up to date with the wide range of activity of the Group.

Our ‘face book’ page (basingstokeprostatecancersupport) will continue to run but remain more focused on the Group’s social activities.

During August and September, many local community magazines published an article (written by Ken Woolgar) :Don’t leave it too late: Be aware of your prostate’. The article drew attention to the worrying statistics charting the rise in prostate cancer cases and encouraged men and their partners to be alert to symptoms and, if concerned, to consult their doctors. The article received a very wide coverage and the potential readership runs into the thousands.

 At its September meeting, the Grou had a presentation from two representatives from Winchester University (Professor David Walters and Dr Kit Tapson) about the potential for the Arts to play a part in helping cancer patients. A project to look at this further, with the help of our Group, is underway. It will be a collaborative venture between the University and Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Many Group members have stepped forward  to participate in what looks to be a very interesting initiative.

Our September gathering was also tinged with sadness. It marked the departure of our Clinical Nurse Specialist, Sally Sawyer, on promotion to a new post in the Hastings/Eastbourne area.  Together with representatives from St Michael’s Hospice, PCUK and with a number of dedicated patients, Sally had played a key part in setting up the Group early in 2015. As Sally faces new challenges, she can look back with pride on the successful foundation and growth of the Group.

September and Harvest Time was marked with the extremely popular ‘Harvest Hullabaloo’. The fun evening saw the emergence of a new singing sensation ‘The Prostraters’. We look forward to hearing them again but they perform at their best when the moon is full.

The appearance of the Mayor, to take part in our ‘Malls’ event, helped ensure that there was some more good publicity in the ‘Basingstoke Gazette’  in early November. 

Also in November, and quite out of the blue, we had an invitation from Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSE) to do a presentation to their office staff in Thatcham. The organizers very generously decided to donate the proceeds of their fund raising for prostate cancer to the Group along with a contribution  from the firm itself.   We expect to receive a substantial sum and will be reporting separately on this generous donation in the New Year.

We have been asked to do two further presentations to SSE staff and have gladly accepted those invitations. Planning is in hand to meet these commitments in the early part of 2019.

On 13 December, sixty four members gathered to celebrate Christmas together with a festive lunch. Once again, there were generous donations both from members and local firms that made the raffle a star event.

During the year, we again organized health professionals to speak at Group meetings with the aim of improving members’ understanding of a variety of issues.  Your Committee is working hard in the hope of continuing this programme during 2019.

All in all, it’s been an eventful year. We have seen major steps forward with the launch of our website, with the number and success of awareness events, with increased publicity and with the expansion of social activities.

Your Committee wishes all members a happy, healthy and successful New Year.