Coffee morning led to £9.5 million Doncaster charity

Georgina Mullis and Judy Bowers with their Doncaster Cancer Detection Trust calendars
Georgina Mullis and Judy Bowers with their Doncaster Cancer Detection Trust calendars

Nearly 50 years ago, a coffee morning in Town Moor, Doncaster, raised nearly £30 for charity.

The one off event brought in £28, and 18 shillings, with a raffle selling tickets for 6d. Coffee and a biscuit were two shillings.

The organisers of that coffee morning went on to set up the Doncaster Cancer Detection Trust.

And, now, that £30 has grown to around £9.5 million.

It has resulted in high profile projects for Doncaster, including the construction of the St John's Hospice, and the current scanner at the Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

The current project that the trust is working on is the raising of £1 million to buy another scanner for the hospital, to replace the current one which is showing signs of years of wear and tear.

The hospital hopes to have two scanners, speeding up access to tests.

Jeanette Fish, of Town Moor, the honorary secretary of the trust for the past 46 years, is hopeful that fundraising for the latest scanner could be complete by the end of 2018.

She said: "The present project is raising money for a state of the art MRI scanner. We have raised about £500,000, and God willing, we will do that in 2018.

"We raised £1 million in five years for the St John's Hospitce and in the people of Doncaster have raised £9.5 million in 46 years.

"It has paid for phase one and phase two of St John's Hospice, and in 2013 gave it a £500,000 upgrade. The charity has also paid for more than 80 pieces of cancer-fighting equipment, and in 2012 we bought a £600,000 scanner.

"That scanner has been worked to death since then so we want to get a new state of the art one in 2018. We're a registered charity and we're still run entirely by volunteers with no paid staff."

Jeanette herself was awarded the MBE and the Freedom of Doncaster for her charity work, but she stressed it is not about her work - she feels it is about all the volunteers, and the public of Doncaster who have donated to the charity. She puts the success of the charity down to Doncaster helping Doncaster.

Christmas saw the charity take its usual place in the Frenchgate Centre for its annual memory tree. People make donations to hand a star on the Christmas tree with the name of a loved one. Jeanette says the charity does not sell them - people come to them to ask to buy them.

It is one of a number of fundraisers which have become cultural landmarks on the Doncaster calender.

There is now also the mile of scarves, which sees residents donate old scarves, which are then sold. The idea was to get so many scarves that they would stretch for a mile. They did, and it the first year the appeal ran they then sold for £3,800. Some of the scarves were also donated to the Aurora Centre, for cancer sufferers, and others were given to homeless people.

That campaign came about when Jeanette was rooting through a drawer for a scarf before going to church on a Sunday morning, but could not close it because there were so many in there.

The other well known fundraiser is the mile of coins appeal, which aimed to get enough pennies to stretch a mile if they were put side-by-side. Last year it raised £2,200.

Team of volunteers

Volunteers Georgina Mullis and Judy Bowers are among around 20 people who regularly turn out to help raise money for the Doncaster Cancer Detection Trust.

Judy, aged 79, of Old Skellow, has been volunteering for the DCDT for around a year, and decided to support the trust because two of her relatives has suffered from cancer.

She said: "I wanted to give something back for all the years I had been lucky in my life.

"We find that we get a really supportive reaction from the public. People want to help raise money for the detection and early treatment of cancer."

Georgina, aged 75, from Warmsworth, said she had been involved with the trust for several years, and also raised money for McMillan.

"I got involved because I think we need things for Doncaster," she said. "I think people know the DCDT raised money for local projects, so the money is spent in Doncaster for people in Doncaster, and I think that's why it's so special. People come back to support us year after year."