A CHARITY inspired by an actor undergoing cancer treatment has passed the £2million fundraising landmark.
The money collected by the Somerset Unit for Radiotherapy Equipment (SURE) buys equipment for the Beacon Centre cancer unit at Taunton’s Musgrove Park Hospital.
SURE was set up in 2000 by Barrie Palmer, whose friend Howard Wander faced regular trips up to Bristol for treatment before losing his battle with cancer.
Mr Palmer lobbied health bosses to build a treatment centre in Taunton so patients could avoid lengthy journeys to Bristol.
Thanks to the efforts of Mr Palmer, who received a Taunton Deane Council Citizenship award in 2009, and other members of SURE, which is supported by the County Gazette, the Beacon Cen-tre opened in 2009 with equipment paid for by the charity.
And it continues to provide vital machines to ensure the Beacon is a centre of excellence.
SURE caught the imagination of people in the Taunton area and further afield and the late Eric Saffin became the face of the charity as treasurer in the early years.
Mr Saffin, who was president of SURE until his death in 2012, received several awards for his dedication, drive and passion, including an engraved salver from the Mayor of Taunton Deane.
Thousands of people have organised fundraising events from coffee mornings, whist drives, raffles, quiz nights to not shaving for a year, concerts, participation in a Mongol rally and Contemplate for Cancer.
Mr Saffin’s granddaughter, Emma, got involved by starting the ‘largest 5p collection in the world’ – and SURE still rakes in thousands of pounds in 5p coins every year.
SURE committee member Jeff Gale, who joined in 2003, said: “Raising £2million would not have been possible without the tremendous support of not only the good people of Somerset but also the surrounding areas.
“People of all ages have given their full-hearted backing to us in various ways, from primary schoolchildren to senior citizens, to pubs, clubs, local firms and organisations, with people putting on events from bingo to whist drives.
“All of this has enabled us to supply the cancer centre with over 40 essential items.”
Other committee members at the start were secretary Vanessa Marchmont and Cynthia Law, who sold sunflowers and held various events before retiring to Cornwall in 2012.
Roy Hole, who has been treasurer and vice-chairman, joined in 2003, chairman Vicky Gordon in 2012 and Mary Hayward in 2008.
Among recent arrivals are web wizard Paul Alway and Carole Summerfield, who assists with the finances.
Mr Gale added: “These people may be the face of SURE but you (the supporters) are SURE and have made us what we are – to you, our friends, we say thank you.”