MSPs rally in support of Edinburgh Maggie's Centre campaign

MSPs have put aside their political differences to back a fundraising drive to extend the Edinburgh Maggie's Centre.

MSPs gathered to support Maggie's Edinburgh in the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Neil Hanna
MSPs gathered to support Maggie's Edinburgh in the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Neil Hanna

It was a show of cross-party support as party leaders Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson joined health secretary Shona Robison to support our Buy A Brick campaign.

The appeal aims to build a £1.2 million extension on Maggie’s Centre at the Western General Hospital, with the aim of helping the charity to support an extra 5000 cancer patients a year.

Miles Briggs, Lothian Tory MSP and the party’s spokesman for public health, got the politicians together at the Scottish Parliament having previously tabled a motion supporting the appeal.

Mr Briggs, who is also deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on palliative care, said he was pleased at the level of support shown by his fellow MSPs.

He said: “It really emphasises the fact that across Scotland MSPs see the work of Maggie’s and really appreciate it and see how the centres are making such a difference to people’s lives.

“We are all as politicians in great support of what is one of Scotland’s best charities and I hope we’ll see it go from strength to strength.”

In November Mr Briggs visited the Edinburgh centre for its 20th birthday celebrations and he said the public’s reaction to the campaign had been “absolutely sensational”.

He added: “There’s a lot of people out there who have had friends and family involved in Maggie’s who want to do something and to support them and [the] Buy a Brick campaign is really giving them that opportunity to get involved.”

The Evening News joined forces with Maggie’s and inspirational fundraiser Lisa Stephenson for the campaign, raising nearly £40,000 in donations in the first six weeks.

Plans for the extension include the creation of three new therapy rooms and extensions to the gardens.

Ruth Davidson, Edinburgh central MSP and leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said it was clear Maggie’s had made a “tremendous” difference to the lives of cancer patients.

She told the News: “I don’t think it can be underestimated the nourishment to the soul that the Maggie’s centres give.

“You cannot read some of the cases that the Evening News has highlighted and not be touched by them and not want to help.

“What’s tremendous about this campaign is it’s asking the whole community to come together to help make this happen and I for one will be giving it my support.”

It was a view echoed by Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, who said she was “delighted” to lend her support to the appeal.

She added: “The centre and its team have played such a pivotal role in offering practical, emotional and social support to people with cancers and their friends and families for the past two decades.

“I was also pleased to see Lisa Stephenson recently awarded Edinburgh’s person of the year for 2016 by the Evening News, a decision no-one in our great city could disagree with.”

Mark Cooper, centre fundraising manager at Maggie’s Edinburgh, said: “Everyone at the centre was thrilled to learn that so many MSP’s had backed Lisa’s Buy a Brick Campaign by signing the motion raised by Miles Briggs.

“It was a wonderful experience visiting Parliament and we were blown away at the level of interest and support shown Scotland’s political leaders.

“We are making huge strides towards achieving our target and while we have a lot of work left to do I would like to take this opportunity to thank the readers of the Evening News for their support so far.”