Rankin backs bid to extend ‘special’ Maggie’s Centre

Author Ian Rankin speaks to group in Greyfriars Churchyard during a tour around Edinburgh's Old Town  to raise money/awareness for Maggies Centres.

Author Ian Rankin speaks to group in Greyfriars Churchyard during a tour around Edinburgh's Old Town to raise money/awareness for Maggies Centres.

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TOP crime writer Ian Rankin has hailed our appeal to extend the city’s Maggie’s Centre, as he spoke of how it could have helped his mother in her final days.

The best-selling author has become a staunch supporter of the centre at the Western General Hospital, which has filled the gap left by medical care, supporting thousands of cancer patients over the past 20 years.

The charity’s vital work is especially poignant for Rankin, whose mother Isobel died of cancer in 1979 when he was only 19-years-old.

Rankin, 56, said: “I think you can sometimes feel like you are just a statistic when you go through a hospital and everyone who you talk to treats you in a formal way. When you walk into Maggie’s it is the opposite. It’s friendly, it’s welcoming, it is soothing, it is something completely different.

“My mum had cancer and I wish something like this was available in the late 1970s when she died. There was nothing available.”

The Evening News has teamed up with Maggie’s and dedicated fundraiser Lisa Stephenson for the Buy a Brick appeal, which aims to fund a £1.2 million extension for the centre.

Built in a former stable block, the Edinburgh centre is too small to cope with rising demand as around 4300 people are diagnosed in Lothian each year.

The new extension would include three new therapy rooms and a much bigger garden, allowing the charity to see an extra 5000 patients a year.

Rankin, who lives in Merchiston, said: “I think most families will have some experience of cancer and the thing about Maggies is it is the opposite of the institutional approach.

“The fact that it’s more like walking into somebody’s house when you go there makes it special.

“It is a shame the centre has to exist but it is a wonderful facility. It is something that Edinburgh can be proud of.

“I think the plans they have to extend the centre and to put in these gardens are just going to be lovely when they are finished.”

The Fife-born author has taken part in a number of fundraising walks for the charity and he led a group of patients and Maggie’s supporters on a personal tour of the Capital earlier this year, following in the footsteps of his famous detective John Rebus.

The original Maggie’s centre was opened in 1996 in memory of garden designer Maggie Keswick Jencks, who wanted to develop a new approach to care after being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer in 1993.

Donations have poured into the appeal, with nearly £40,000 raised during the first six weeks of the campaign.

Backing the appeal, he called on Evening News readers to dig deep over the festive season.

He said: “It’s the old cliche – Christmas is a time of giving.

“I know there’s a lot of deserving charities out there but you would be hard pressed to find one that’s better than Maggie’s for all the help and support it gives to so many people.”

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com