Morrisons donates £160k to help Maggie’s reach halfway in appeal

Yvonne McIntosh, Ellie Rossiter, Amy Robertson, Alastair Stewart (all standing), and Andrew Anderson and Corinne Eunson were celebrating the donation. Picture: Greg Macvean
Yvonne McIntosh, Ellie Rossiter, Amy Robertson, Alastair Stewart (all standing), and Andrew Anderson and Corinne Eunson were celebrating the donation. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A CHARITABLE supermarket chain has helped us hit the halfway mark in our bid to extend the Maggie’s Centre by donating a massive £160,000 from sales of 5p plastic bags.

The extraordinary donation from the Morrisons Foundation has given the Buy a Brick appeal a major boost in its quest to build an extension for the Edinburgh Maggie’s Centre at the Western General Hospital.

Staff at the centre have hailed Evening News readers for playing “a significant role” in the campaign as donations poured in to fund the £1.2 million extension.

This latest gift means there is now more than £700,000 in the pot, including £440,000 from corporate donations and nearly £40,000 raised from readers.

It also comes just days after a mystery benefactor pledged to donate £100,000 to the appeal if the charity could match the funding with gifts from people who had already supported Maggie’s.

Most of the Morrisons donation was raised through sales of single-use plastic bags, with some cash also coming from clothing banks and charity scratch cards.

David Scott, a trustee of the Morrisons Foundation, said: “We established the Morrisons Foundation to support charities which make a real, positive and lasting difference to people’s lives.

“This aligns perfectly with Maggie’s mission to ensure that anybody affected by cancer has somewhere to go for practical, emotional and social support, and we’re delighted to be supporting their campaign to extend the centre in Edinburgh.

“Once complete the extension will enable Maggie’s to ensure that even more people can benefit from the support on offer, and this project is vitally important in making sure the charity can meet the high demand on its services.

“Being diagnosed with cancer can bring with it tough questions and many people use the centre for a friendly place to chat with those who have been on a similar journey. By increasing the capacity of the centre in Edinburgh even more people will have access to this important social support.”

The first Maggie’s Centre opened its doors 20 years ago in a former stable block at the Western General Hospital.

It was the brainchild of Maggie Keswick Jencks, a respected landscape architect, who was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer in 1993.

After being left to process her diagnosis in a hospital corridor, Maggie decided to create a centre that offered more than just medical care to cancer patients.

Sadly she died before it could be built but the centre has become her legacy, offering care to more than 420,000 people since it opened its doors in 1996.

The charity now runs 19 centres across the UK and further afield, with a 20th facility due to open in Forth Valley next year.

Maggie’s Edinburgh has become so successful that it desperately needs more space to see all the people in need.

This winter, the Evening News joined has forces with the charity and fundraiser Lisa Stephenson to turn that dream into a reality by funding an extension to allow it to see an additional 5000 patients per year.

Edinburgh mum Lisa has raised thousands of pounds for Maggie’s since her diagnosis with incurable cancer in 2011.

Andrew Anderson, Maggie’s Edinburgh centre head, said he was astounded by the “tremendous progress” of the appeal and hailed readers for their generosity during the festive season.

He said: “We are all delighted that the Morrisons Foundation has made such a sizeable contribution to our extension fund and I know that the Evening News’ Buy A Brick for Maggie’s campaign, and especially the response from readers, has played a significant role in helping to make this happen. The campaign as a whole has gathered momentum as the profile has been raised and I am astounded that in only six short weeks since the inspirational Lisa Stephenson launched the fundraising drive we have made such tremendous progress.

“It is thrilling to be able to look forward to 2017 knowing that we will soon be able to support many, many more people with cancer, as well as their family and friends, in the Lothians and I would like to extend my personal thanks, as well as those of everyone at Maggie’s Edinburgh, to the Evening News readers, The Morrisons Foundation and everyone else who has donated so far.”

Earlier this week, the architect behind the extension told of his desire to design a space “through the eyes of the patient”.

It will comprise three new rooms, more seating space in the kitchen and landscaping work on the centre’s existing garden area.

Richard Murphy – the brains behind the original Maggie’s building back in the 1990s – wants it to feel “non-institutional”. The 61-year-old said: “It’s almost like an anti-hospital – no corridors, no signage, no feeling of walking into an institution at all.

“It’s trying to get inside the other person’s head, trying to find out what matters to them.

“I think often when hospitals are built everyone’s on the committee except the patient or the patient’s family.

“The great thing about the Maggie’s centre is it’s very much designed through the eyes of the patient and I think that’s terribly important, that’s what we try and do.”

And last Friday, leading city crime writer Ian Rankin told us how the centre could have helped his mother in her final days.

The best-selling author has become a staunch supporter of Maggie’s and said he had found the charity’s work especially poignant as mother Isobel died of cancer in 1979 when he was only 19-years-old.

Rebus creator 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.”

lizzy.buchan@jpress.co.uk