A Cupar woman who has devoted her life to providing care and support to children with cancer and their families, is calling for help from people across north east Fife.
Last week the Fife Herald and St Andrews Citizen launched a campaign to help TCCL LODGE raise the £45,000 it needs to buy a holiday home in St Andrews.
The charity, formed from the original Tayside Children with Cancer and Leukaemia (TCCL) group, has found the perfect property to turn into a holiday lodge where families can spend quality time together yet still be close to care services at Ninewells Hospital.
This week former paediatric oncology nurse specialist Gaye Steel explained how the charity was formed and were the vision for a holiday home came from.
“Working as part of a team in ward 29 at Ninewells, I would spend a third of my time in the ward, a third in patients’ homes doing blood tests, administering chemotherapy etc and a third liaising with GPs, health visitors, schools etc. Along with a small group of parents we decidced to set up a support group for families affected by cancer.
Gaye went on, “When I began nursing in the 1970s the most common form of childhood cancer, leukaemia, had a 20 per cent survival rate, now in the same year that I retired, the rate os 90 per cent which is just amazing. Unfortunately there are still a number of cancers that are terminal and we also work to support these children and their families, often in conjunction with Rachel House children’s hospice.
“As a support group we realised that one of the biggest pressures on families was the financial aspect, especially if one parent has to give up work. TCCL made a decision then that every child diagnosed would receive a grant which wouldn’t be means tested. Families also have travelling costs and usually higher telephone bills so we knew it was important to provide practical support like this.
Gaye added: “In 2002 we took on our first fundraising project to raise money to turn a courtyard at Ninewells into a pleasant area for children and their parents. We only had ten members but we raised £90,000!”
The dream to build a holiday home became the charity’s next big challenge after Gaye visited ‘Calum’s Cabin’ on the Isle of Bute.
“I knew something like this would be fantastic for our families and in 2011 we set a target of raising £500,000. Because it involved a building we had to set up a separate chaity and TCCL LODGE was born.
“Over the last three years we have raised £325,000 through a wide variety of fundraising including our annual ball and Burns’ Supper as well as contributions from individuals who have taken on a variety of charity challenges including the Super Car Kids event at Crail organised by Dundee jeweller Stephen Henderson.
Gaye went on to explain that after exploring options to build a house or buy one , the charity decided to find a property to buy. They surveyed parents and found that St Andrews was the unanimous choice of location.
Now, as well as finding the final £45,000 the charity is hoping local businesses, schools, student groups and individuals will take the cause to their hearts.
“This house is more than a building, it will be a place where families can really come together and enjoy quality time they normally never have. We used to offer to pay for families to go on holiday but there wasn’t a huge take-up and when we asked why they told us it was because they didn’t want to go too far from Ninewells. If children get sick they really need antibiotics within the first hour so St Andrews is the ideal location for the lodge. We hope we can make this dream come true.”
TCCL LODGE currently has a ‘wish list’ on its website at http://www.tccl-lodge.org.uk/donate-to-tccl-lodge where people can see exactly what is needed and what it costs. Anyone who would like to support the TCCL LODGE campaign can contact Gaye via the contact section on the website or contact the Fife Herald office, 01334 658792.