Sue Thompson, Chief Officer of Rosemere Cancer Foundation, is to step down from her role at the end of next month (May) to take early retirement.
Sue (59) has been at the helm of the charity since its launch 22 years ago. Under her stewardship, its fundraising income has grown from scratch to more than £1.2 million annually as word of the huge impact the projects it funds have on the lives of local cancer patients has spread.
Sue’s unwavering ambition for Rosemere Cancer Foundation has seen the charity, which now operates with a team of six dedicated fundraisers and three admin staff, make significant contributions towards the establishment of local cancer units at hospitals in Barrow-in-Furness, Kendal, Blackpool and Chorley.
For Rosemere Cancer Centre, the region’s specialist cancer treatment centre at the Royal Preston Hospital, Sue has overseen the charity’s purchase of many pieces of innovative equipment, including the first flexible endobronchial ultrasound system in the UK for better diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer, image guided radiotherapy and most recently, the first Xi surgical robot in the North of England, all of which would have been beyond limited NHS resources at the time.
In addition, Sue has also worked to spearhead Rosemere Cancer Foundation’s investment in local cancer research projects, which have helped to bring the very latest treatment techniques to local patients before they are generally available through the NHS.
Sue, who is originally from Lytham St Anne’s but now lives just over the South Cumbria border with her architect husband Ian, said: “It has been a roller coaster of a ride but without a doubt, the very best part of my job has been getting to know and work with so many fabulous supporters, without whom we would not be where we are today.
“I would like to thank them all from the bottom of my heart for all their dedication, passion and sheer hard work on Rosemere’s behalf over the years. There is much for them to be proud of, not least the success of the 20 Years Anniversary Appeal, which we launched in March 2017 to celebrate the opening of Rosemere Cancer Centre and the inception of Rosemere Cancer Foundation. It has raised a whopping £2.25m over the last two years.”
As well as working for Rosemere Cancer Foundation, Sue, a former chairman of the Institute of Fundraising North West, has donated countless hours to the charity over the years and encouraged her whole family, including her now grown up children Cassie, who lives in London and works as a buyer for Urban Outfitters, and music promoter Ben, who is based in Leeds, to get behind its work.
In 2004, Sue, her then 70-year-old mum Ann and six friends walked the Furness Way to raise funds. Five years later in 2009, Sue undertook the Borneo Challenge, which involved climbing Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in SE Asia at 13,455ft, cycling across the Croker Mountain Range in 112 degree heat and 90% humidity and white water rafting down the Padas River to raise money.
The challenge has since been suspended as a charity challenge after being deemed too difficult and dangerous but Sue was undeterred and subsequently trekked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu as a fundraiser in 2011 and was sponsored to walk from Barrow to Burnley – the length of Rosemere Cancer Centre’s catchment area – for the 20 Years Anniversary Appeal.
Peter Mileham OBE, Chairman of Rosemere Cancer Foundation, who first met Sue at the charity’s launch when as a prominent member of the local business community he was invited to serve on its inaugural management committee, said: “For the past 22 years Sue has been both a pioneer and driving force behind Rosemere and I am sorry to see her go.
“Sue has led a distinguished career here and her dedication to the success of Rosemere has earned her huge respect from her colleagues and our many volunteers. Sue’s leadership has secured an enviable reputation for the charity as a leader in the field of cancer care and treatment and she will be very much missed.”
Karen Partington, Chief Executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which manages Rosemere Cancer Centre, added: “Sue’s passion and enthusiasm throughout her Rosemere career has never waned. Sue has worked tirelessly to ensure that all cancer patients throughout Lancashire and South Cumbria have access to the extras Rosemere is able to fund in order that their cancer journey is made as bearable as possible.”
Although retiring, Sue, who began her career in event organisation for the National Association of Boys’ Club in 1982 and has over 30 years’ experience fundraising for national, regional and local charities in both a paid and voluntary capacity, intends to continue supporting Rosemere Cancer Foundation while spending more time with Ian and the rest of her family.
Sue added: “I will miss everyone terribly but I know that under the chairmanship of Peter, supported by our fabulous staff team, I am leaving Rosemere in very safe hands and I look forward to watching from the side lines as they take Rosemere on to even greater things.”
Rosemere Cancer Foundation works to bring world class cancer treatments and services to cancer patients from throughout Lancashire and South Cumbria being treated at Rosemere Cancer Centre and eight local cancer units.
These units are at the Royal Preston Hospital, Chorley and South Ribble Hospital, the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General Teaching Hospitals, Lancaster Royal Infirmary, Furness General Hospital, Westmorland General Hospital and Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where it is currently involved in an £150,000 appeal to build one of the UK’s first acute cancer triage units, a 999 call or walk-in emergency unit that will enable Fylde patients to by-pass the hospital’s busy A&E department should they become ill or suffer treatment side-effects and need immediate medical help and advice.
The charity also funds cutting edge equipment, research, training and other cancer services that the NHS is unable to afford. For further information on its work, including how to make a donation, visit www.rosemere.org.uk