CANCER patients on Wearside have 10,000 reasons to be grateful to Loose Women star Denise Welch.
The former Coronation Street actress has donated £10,000 she scooped on TV show Celebrity Family Fortunes to Sunderland Royal Hospital’s head and neck cancer team, which has been treating her mother Annie for two decades.
Denise, Annie and dad Vincent visited the hospital to hand over a cheque for their winnings and Denise also took time out to officially open the hospital’s Macmillan Information and Support Centre.
“It is 20 years since Mum first had treatment,” said Denise.
Annie was found to be suffering from cancer of the soft palate and was unsure whether to go ahead with the 13-hour operation.
“She talked to someone else who had had the operation and he persuaded her to have it. In the end she did,” said Denise.
Annie has been treated at the hospital for various oral cancers since and Denise is in no doubt that without the care and support of the Sunderland team, her mum would not be here today.
So when the chance came to go on Family Fortunes and win money for the unit, she leapt at it – though the experience turned out to be surprisingly tense for so experienced a performer.
“It was really good fun but it is quite nerve-wracking when you get up there with your whole family and they are not used to doing television, because they are really nervous and you pick up on that,” she said.
The family kept their appearance on the show a secret from the hospital team because they did not want to get anyone’s hopes up.
“I just wanted it to be a surprise for them,” she said.
“My sister and I got through to the end and that was really nerve-wracking.
“It was sad because we just missed out by one point on the £30,000, but at the end of the day, we still won £10,000 and I know how much that means to the hospital.”
Consultant Andy Burns, who has been treating Annie, said the money would be used to make life better for the people who matter most.
“We tend not to spend donations on equipment – this is a very well-provided hospital – but we spend it on facilities for the patients.”
Denise also met 10-year-old Dylan Ward, from Washington, a Macmillan fund-raiser who was named Britain’s Kindest Kid.
The Echo reported how Dylan won the Channel Five competition after selling his art work in aid of the charity, whose nurses cared for his grandfather, John Pearson, who died from cancer aged 53.
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