Monday, 27 November 2017

I confronted my fear of heights and did a Skydive because The Christie is second to none for cancer care and treatment - Phil Shaw

Phil Shaw, Divisional Director for Interserve Construction delivering The Christie’s proton beam therapy centre

Phil Shaw
Interserve is working with The Christie to bring the UK's first high energy proton beam therapy service to Manchester. The state of the art five-storey building will provide three treatment gantries, a research room, a patient reception, consultation rooms and public space.

As Divisional Director I have ultimate responsibility for the delivery of this pioneering project, which is nearing completion and is being fitted out with its equipment. This project has been an inspirational one to work on, and working at The Christie is very rewarding. I’m so proud to lead the team delivering this project that will make such a huge difference to patients quality of life.

Working with The Christie has had a profound impact on me. Key to this is the fact that I have been touched by The Christie and the fantastic care they provide for cancer patients. A close friend, a family member and a colleague have all been treated at The Christie so I know that the work they do is second to none! Being onsite I see the amazing care and treatment provided by the dedicated staff and I feel compelled to fundraise to help create awareness and contribute to enabling this world class treatment to continue.

So each year I set myself a new challenge. This year I decided to confront my fear of heights by doing a Skydive for The Christie. If anyone is considering taking part in The Christie’s Skydive, I would whole-heartedly recommend it.

The adrenalin rush is amazing, with a feeling of freedom and an incredible sense of accomplishment, pretty much nothing on earth can beat it!

Although nothing seems more unnatural than jumping out of an aeroplane, and despite it scaring the living daylights out of me, I’ve never felt more empowered.

Once my parachute opened and my heart rate steadied, I took a moment to gaze around and saw the world in a new light. It’s beautiful up there, and the experience is about as close to flying as humans can actually get.

There is another bonus too….you’re strapped to an experienced instructor and dive together. Not only does this mean you don’t have to worry about making any mistakes, it also means he or she will be doing all the hard work!

At Interserve, we are passionate about improving the lives of people in the communities where we live and work, and involvement in charity work is a vital part of our corporate aims. The Christie’s proximity to our regional office allows us to see first-hand the great work that the charity does in the North West and the fantastic care and treatment the hospital proves to cancer patients.

To find out more about doing a Skydive for The Christie in 2018 please visit

Monday, 13 November 2017

Put the fun into fundraising: We’re proud to support the ‘We did it for The Christie’ (#wediditforthechristie) campaign - Neil Tinsley

Neil Tinsley, Treasurer of the Nantwich Christie Hospital Support Group

Neil Tinsley
Almost two decades ago my life changed forever; my next door neighbour Liz stuck her head over the garden fence and asked if I’d be interested in joining a charity fundraising group that she was part of.

She said their treasurer had moved on and they were looking for a new one and she knew that I was working in an accounts department of a large computer company. I agreed to go along to the group’s next meeting and the rest is history as they say!

That group was the Nantwich Christie Hospital Support Group. At the time, the group was organising its third black-tie ball at the Nantwich Civil Hall; I couldn’t recall ever going to such an event before and I certainly hadn’t been involved in helping to organise one, but I said I’d be happy to do whatever they wanted me to do.

In the run up to the ball we were selling tickets for a grand draw which would be drawn on the night, this involved standing in the centre of Crewe and Nantwich trying to catch peoples’ eyes and persuade them to part with their hard-earned money, not an easy task!  

It was during this activity that I first started to realise how important The Christie, or Christie’s hospital as it was then known, was to people. Strangers were coming up and pouring their hearts out about how they or someone they knew was being treated at the hospital and how if it wasn’t for the fantastic doctors and nurses they probably would not be around.

It was all tear-jerking stuff and I began to realise that what the Nantwich group was doing was really making a difference. The grand draw and the summer ball were a great success and we were invited along to meet the research team to hand over the £16,000 that we’d raised. This had taken the group’s overall total to a fantastic £38,000 and Sarah, the group’s Chair, and the other committee members had said that this was way over what they had originally set out to make and that it was time to stop.

We arrived at The Christie and were given a tour round the research facilities, introduced to a number of researchers who thanked us for all our efforts and explained to us that if it wasn’t for people like us then the massive progress that had been achieved in treating cancer patients might stop! We handed over our donation, had the photoshoot with the large cheque and left … as we walked out of the door we all looked at each other and we knew we couldn’t stop fundraising, however, we all agreed ‘No more balls!’

So, at our next meeting we agreed that we had to carry on with our fundraising but rather than organising large, one-off events we would focus on smaller more regular events and that’s what we’ve been doing ever since … plus we have broken our own ‘no more balls’ rule on a number of occasions as we have reached significant milestones in our fundraising journey. In fact, we are currently in the process of organising next year’s ‘silver anniversary ball’ to celebrate 25 years of fundraising for The Christie. Find out more at and email to reserve your ticket.

A couple of years ago I was asked to speak at a fundraisers’ forum at The Christie and my message to the people gathered in the auditorium was to make sure you have fun – ‘put the fun into fundraising’ – and that way it doesn’t seem like hard work. It is certainly something our Nantwich group does.
Neil with the Nantwich Christie Hospital Support Group

We are a very relaxed group of friends who just so happen to raise money for a fantastic cause along the way.

Earlier this year our group had the great honour of being asked to help launch the ‘We did it for The Christie’ (#wediditforthechristie) campaign. This important new campaign aims to bring in new supporters for The Christie and encourage supporters to fundraise for the vital work done by The Christie.

Twenty years ago, I would never have imagined that people would be coming up to me in the street and saying ‘Oh, you’re the bingo caller from that do we went to last week’ or ‘could you please make the questions at next year’s quiz a bit easier so we don’t win the wooden spoon again!’

Joining the Nantwich Christie Hospital Support Group really did change my life. Since joining I now have an amazing circle of friends, a fantastic social life and most of all I know that I’m helping, in a very small way, to improve the lives of others. I have a lot to thank my neighbour Liz for!

You can follow the Nantwich Christie Hospital Support Group on Facebook at or Twitter at

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

It was special to be involved in a key moment in the development of The Christie’s revolutionary MR linac - Mike Thorpe

Mike Thorpe, Christie patient

Mike Thorpe
I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February 2014 at North Manchester General Hospital and my treatment was a two year course of hormone therapy and radiotherapy at The Christie. 

The radiotherapy was every weekday for four weeks during July. I was invited to take part in a radiotherapy clinical trial so my treatment took place in the research facility known as R1, the radiographers looking after me for those four weeks were Julie, Laura, Michelle and Sheena.

Being diagnosed with cancer had knocked me sideways and that month of radiotherapy was the most intense month of my life. I was scared and radiotherapy was a high-tech world that I didn't recognise and didn't realise existed. 

I had 20 days of treatment and I was very focused so I didn't have many casual chats with my team but every one of them has a special place in my heart and I can never thank them enough.

I’ve heard people talk about finishing treatment and saying it's like falling off a cliff, it is! 

After radiotherapy every weekday for four weeks, I felt like I was suddenly on my own (despite still needing hormone implants to be fitted every three months) with time to think about the past six months and I also wanted something to fill the void.

During the radiotherapy, I'd picked up a flyer for a support group so I made a call and joined. It was the Effects of Pelvic Radiation Support Group and I still attend now. After attending a couple of meetings, one of the organisers, Sue Taylor suggested I think about joining The Christie's Patient and Carers Reference Group (PRG) so I did. That was the first step on a long road of user involvement and I'm still a member of the PRG.

Sue also suggested that I look at the Macmillan cancer voices website for other opportunities. Not long after that, I was encouraged to attend a Macmillan workshop in London, soon to be followed by another one in Birmingham and then Newcastle for the Independent Cancer Taskforce. 

Along the way, I joined the Macmillan Cancer Improvement Partnership which has been working in the city of Manchester and later became involved with Greater Manchester Cancer which drives cancer provision across the region. 

Being involved with Greater Manchester Cancer led to me working with the Cancer Vanguard which aims to develop a new model of cancer care and treatment throughout the country.

I’m also involved in the Virtual MDT (Multidisciplinary Team) and one of the original members of CRUK's Patient Sounding Board. There are numerous other projects I've been involved with as well.

At the end of July 2017, I was discharged from The Christie by Clinical Nurse Specialist Helen Johnson. Helen is involved in some of the projects I've been participating in.

It was through Helen that I was invited to be involved in marking a key moment in the development of a new era in radiotherapy research. The Christie was looking for a radiotherapy patient to pick a rose from The Christie garden to be used as the first item to be scanned by the hospital’s new MR-linac, a revolutionary multi million pound radiotherapy machine with its own MR scanner, one of only seven in the world. 

Sheena and Mike at the MR-linac
Now as it turns out, the MR-linac has been installed in the R1 radiotherapy suite where I was treated which made it even more special for me. 

One thing about radiotherapy is you rarely go back for more, so patients rarely get to meet the teams who treated them again. The Christie made it really special for me by inviting one of the team of radiotherapists who had treated me originally, Sheena, to be there when I picked the rose and placed it in the MR-linac for scanning. It was a real privilege.

I’m very grateful to have been given the opportunity to be involved in so much user involvement. And I will always have an enduring affection for The Christie and its staff.