How did you start volunteering?
My cousin Westley was just two years old when he was first diagnosed with cancer in 1993 and was treated at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. My aunt and uncle became the first family to stay at CLIC Sargent’s Home from Home in Oxford, which offers free self-catering accommodation so families can stay together while a child is being treated for cancer.
Westley had cancer just about all the way through his life. The impact it had on his parents, myself as his cousin, and the extended family was massive. Emotionally it was tough on all of us as there is nothing you can do, you just feel utterly helpless. 10 years after Westley was first diagnosed with cancer the disease returned and he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Sadly Westley died in 2006, aged 16.
With Westley being so young it also made the family very angry. ‘Why?’ was a question that we asked an awful lot. On the other hand, it was very humbling to see Westley and hear him laughing and telling jokes. It made us all be very aware of just how little we have to moan about in life. He is an inspiration to all of us both in life and since his death.
That’s why I volunteer for CLIC Sargent, I want to support them in any way I can having seen first-hand the incredible work they do supporting families affected by childhood cancer.
What does your role involve?
I have always supported CLIC Sargent since they helped Westley, but as soon as I got the role as surgeon Linden Cullen in Holby City I decided to become more proactive. Early 2008 I won a special edition of the BBC quiz show ‘The Weakest Link’ and donated the £8,600 winnings to CLIC Sargent.
Since then I have done the Great South Run, visited hospitals, attended events and auctioned myself off for lunch. My next goal is to run the London Marathon in the spring. On top of this I do as much media and PR work as I can to promote the charity.
What motivates you to volunteer?
Cancer is uncompromising. It doesn’t discriminate between colour, creed, sex or age. It’s an incredibly horrible disease. Having spent time in hospital with families and kids with cancer, I make what little difference I can. It’s great to see smiles on their faces. Words can not describe how strong these children are.