Prince Charles and Camilla attended the official opening of the North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital and met Donegal's proud campaign groups.
Donegal’s cancer patients will be relieved to get treatment close to home at the state-of-the-art North West Cancer Centre which was officially opened yesterday.
The opening was another day of victory for Donegal’s cancer campaign groups after they spend years fighting for local people to access care in a nearby facility, rather than being forced to make the strenuous journey to Galway, Dublin or Belfast.
Donegal Action for Cancer Care (DACC) Chairperson Betty Holmes told Donegal Woman it came as a great surprise to see Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall at the opening event. She recalls speaking to the couple briefly:
“As they were walking along saying hello to everyone Prince Charles did stop with me and shook hands. He asked me if I was one of the volunteers at Altnagelvin Hospital and I was very proud to say ‘No I’m with Donegal Action for Cancer Care a totally voluntary group in Donegal’ and briefly what we do. The Prince then said they had both been in Donegal last year and how beautiful it is and how much they enjoyed it,” Betty said.
“The Duchess Camilla then stopped briefly and I said we were DACC and who that is, she also referred briefly to their visit to Donegal and again how beautiful it is.”
Betty had the opportunity to shake hands with Camilla again later in the day, who remembered her and recalled that she was with DACC.
“We again met her when we all lined up and she came and shook our hands, when she came to me she said, “I’ve met you, you are with a voluntary cancer group in Donegal”. I have to say I felt quite proud that DACC were being remembered. I do intend to write a wee thank you note to them both on behalf of DACC.”
Betty said it was a proud day for her and fellow DACC member Rose Boylan. “It was a great surprise and a privilege to meet them both. I suppose more importantly is the fact that they were both there to officially open the new Cross Border Radiotherapy Unit at Altnagelvin Hospital which will have a major impact on Donegal cancer patients’ lives.”
Members of Co-operating for Cancer Care NorthWest were invited by Mr Niall Birthistle, Chairman, Western Health & Social Care Trust to attend the Official Opening yesterday, where they celebrated their achievements.
Spokesperson Noelle Duddy said: “Members of CCC(NW) have campaigned for twelve years for this much-needed facility to treat cancer patients in the North West Region of this Island, ending for the majority of radiotherapy patients in Donegal/North West the very stressful journeys of travelling to Dublin, Galway and Belfast.
“It has taken many years for this project to reach its end goal and it’s fantastic that treatments have commenced. This is a time to celebrate.”
“CCC(NW) recognise the uniqueness of this cross-border Project and we encourage Governments and Departments of Health, North and South to use it as a strong and positive template to develop further partnerships/collaborations in cross border Healthcare provision into the future and that cross border services are developed and delivered in Letterkenny University Hospital as well as Altnagelvin Hospital.”
“CCC(NW) is proud of the unique role it played in ensuring that the radiotherapy Unit in Altnagelvin has now become a reality and we would like to applaud all our fellow campaigners and politicians from either side of the border who have also supported the development of this service. Lastly we would like to thank all the members of the Radiotherapy Project Team for their hard work, commitment and determination to ensure the success of the Cancer Centre Project.”