A LUNG cancer charity set up in memory of legendary entertainer Roy Castle is facing potential closure because of the coronavirus – and needs your support.
The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation was founded in 1990 by Professor Ray Donnelly who, at the time, was working as a thoracic surgeon at what is now the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital.
It remains the only UK charity solely dedicated to supporting everyone living with lung cancer – the deadliest form of the disease.
In its 30-year history, the charity which is based in the Cotton Exchange Building on Old Hall Street, has changed the face of lung cancer.
Roy Castle with Professor Ray Donnelly during Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation launch
It also funded pioneering research at the University of Liverpool, the results of which lay the groundwork for the newly announced lung health checks across England, an initiative which could save thousands of lives and provide essential evidence for a national lung cancer screening programme.
Yet despite its invaluable history, the charity is faced with potential closure due to the impact of the coronavirus.
Should its doors close, the gulf left in supporting those with the disease, who are also one of the most at risk groups to serious illness and death should they contract COVID-19, would be huge.
Appealing to our readers for support Paula Chadwick (pictured below), the charity's chief executive, said: "We have faced difficult times in our history, but the impact of COVID-19 is certainly one of, if not the most, threatening.
"With events postponed or cancelled, social distancing putting a stop to traditional fundraising and our shops forced to close, we have had to furlough around half of our staff and are not eligible for the £750million funding support announced by the Government last week."
"There is a lot of misconception around this funding; many understandably presuming charities are now taken care of, but this is so far from the truth.
"Lung cancer remains the biggest cancer killer, killing more people than breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers combined.
"It particularly affects people in Liverpool, with incidence rates nearly double the national average.
"We are incredibly proud of our 30-year history which started right here in the city. When we started, lung cancer was bottom of the pile.
"It's now receiving the second highest amount of research funding. One-year survival rates have more than doubled, and we are on the brink of implementing a national lung cancer screening programme, which could save thousands.
"But there is still so much more to do and, as the current situation proves, the need for our charity is imperative.
"People with lung cancer are at the highest risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19.
"In addition to this, many are faced with the very realistic prospect that their treatment may be postponed.
"This is understandably creating high levels anxiety and worry.
"As a result, calls to our Ask the nurse service have increased by 56% whilst our latest service – our Keep in Touch Support Service – is ensuring the most socially isolated are not overlooked or forgotten.
"People with lung cancer need us more than ever but, in order to give that, we need support too.
"So, to mark our 30th anniversary, we have set up a fundraiser on Facebook and are asking people to donate.
"Then we can continue to fund life-saving research.
"We can continue to campaign for life-lengthening treatments. We can continue to provide essential support, and hope, to people living with lung cancer.”
Yorkshire-born entertainer Roy Castle passed away in 1994 following a two year battle with lung cancer.
The singer, dancer, musician, comedian and actor also fronted the hit BBC television show Record Breakers.
He also appeared as a Stan Laurel impersonator in Ronnie Barker's 1973 BBC comedy series Seven of one.
In 1992, Roy was awarded an OBE, in recognition of his wide-ranging talents and for services to charity.
Following his diagnosis, founder of the then Lung Cancer Fund, Professor Ray Donnelly, approached Roy with plans to build the world’s first lung cancer research centre.
It was a proposal Roy threw himself into and, on July 21 1994, Roy and wife, Fiona, set off on his Tour of Hope.
Within days, Roy had raised £1 million and set the wheels in motion to reaching the £12million target required to build, equip and run the research centre.
You can help Roy's legacy to continue, by supporting the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation through its Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donate/3703327466376167/