Yesterday, as a result of Maggie Watts's e-petition campaign, Parliament debated the need for better awareness, swifter diagnosis and more research funding for pancreatic cancer.
The day began with around 50 supporters meeting in Parliament's Jubilee room to chat and share stories ahead of the debate itself over tea and biscuits. Julie Hesmondhalgh, whose Coronation Street character Hayley Cropper died after battling pancreatic cancer - was there to offer her support, together with MPs Nic Dakin and Eric Ollerenshaw, who co-sponsored the Parliamentary debate.
A number of other MPs, including Stuart Andrew, Tim Farron, Heather Wheeler, Paul Murphy, Rob Wilson, Sir Roger Gale and Barbara Keeley dropped in to show their backing for the cause and talk to supporters. The reception was sponsored jointly by ourselves and Pancreatic Cancer Action.
Following refreshments, and touching speeches from Maggie and Julie, supporters made their way from the Jubilee Room to where the debate would be held, packing out the public gallery. Some needed to watch the debate from a TV in a nearby committee room. Very rarely are backbench debates attended by so many members of the public, so it really helped to ram home just how much strength of feeling there is on the issue.
As for the debate itself, over the course of two and a half hours, MP after MP called upon the Health Minister to make the changes needed to ensure that pancreatic cancer survival rates - appallingly low and largely unchanged over the past 40 years - start to improve. All speakers praised Maggie and her fellow campaigners for their success with the e-petition and how their efforts have helped to raise the profile of pancreatic cancer in UK.
Very importantly, the Minister agreed to take Nic Dakin and Eric Ollerenshaw to a meeting with the Chief Medical Officer to discuss in more detail the levels of funding for pancreatic cancer research.
The day ended with more Parliamentary support for tackling pancreatic cancer than we have ever seen before! If you couldn't be there, or missed it online yesterday, then not to worry because you can watch the debate online, or read the transcript via Hansard.
28 MPs attended the debate, with 11 full speeches made and a number of interventions made. Thank you to the following MPs who stayed for all or part of the proceedings:
Nic Dakin, Eric Ollerenshaw, Barbara Keeley, Stewart Jackson, Jonathan Reynolds, John Baron, Grahame Morris, Stuart Andrew, Iain Stewart, Phillip Lee, Karen Lumley, Sir Andrew Stunnell, Julian Huppert, Stephen McPartland, Naomi Long, Andrew Smith, John Hemming, Rob Wilson, Richard Fuller, Simon Burns, Mark Durkan, Stephen Pound, John Mann, Shadow Health Minister Jamie Reed, Health Minister Jane Ellison and her PPS Andrew Jones. Christopher Chope and Philip Davies chaired the debate.
THANK YOU once again to Maggie and to all the dedicated campaigners who made the debate possible. The debate- and the day itself - was a huge success and gives us all a springboard in which to further campaign for the changes we all want to see!
There are a few photos of the day on Facebook now - go have a look!