News Feature – Macmillan Cancer Support
This was the feature in the local publication, The Darton Arrow – September 2018. Hopefully the first of many, that are to be accredited to the Village Hall as part of our building a relationship with the local community.
On the 28th of September 100’s of people in and around Darton will sink their teeth into a cake as part of Macmillan Support’s Biggest Coffee Morning. An action that will be replicated throughout the UK by tens of thousands of others and made possible only by the vision of one man, Douglas Macmillan.
In 1911 Douglas, at just 27, was gifted £10 by his father, who himself was dying of cancer at the time. Cancer was a mysterious disease around which there was a lot of superstition and very little else. There was no support (don’t forget that the NHS only started in 1948), very limited treatments and even less in the way of compassion.
With that first £10 donation, Douglas Macmillan founded ‘The Society for the Prevention and Relief of Cancer’ which eventually became the ‘Macmillan Cancer Support’. Douglas didn’t want other people to go through the same suffering as he and his family had done, alone.
By 1913 it is reported that more than 60 people directly benefited from the society in that year – all supported on a voluntary basis. In fact it was another 20 years before the first paid appointment was made by the Society.
By the 1930’s cancer support became very ‘hands on’ with people helping victims with the basics such as delivering food and coal. They also offered financial support in the way of grants for medical fees (pre NHS), artificial limbs and even hot water bottles and, in some instances, holidays. But Douglas’s vision was much greater than that. He wanted to see specialist ‘Cancer Homes’ for patients throughout the country and, as a result, Macmillan Cancer support was, and still is, very much involved with the hospice movement that began to evolve in the 70’s.
Sadly Douglas himself succumbed to cancer in 1969 but the movement continued to thrive. It was in the 70’s that the first Macmillan nurses arrived, providing a very visible and frontline support for the many millions of people that still use the service every year. But there is much more going on behind the scenes as Macmillan are continually lobbying for improvements to the benefit system such as the abolishing of prescription fees for sufferers.
So as you enjoy your humble cake and coffee on the 28th, spare a thought for Douglas Macmillan and what he was able to achieve with his first £10:00 donation.
In 1911 at just 27, Douglas Macmillan, was gifted £10 by his father, who himself was dying of cancer at the time.