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Raising awareness in the NI and Welsh Assemblies

Posted by: Policy and campaigning 5 November 2015

As part of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month (PCAM) we organised events booked in each of the UK’s parliaments and assemblies. This week we held receptions in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Welsh Assembly, which follows on from a drop-in event already held for MPs at Westminster on 27th October.

Northern Ireland Stormont Reception

On Monday 2nd November 20 Members of the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly (MLAs) joined us in the Parliament Buildings in Stormont to learn more about pancreatic cancer and PCAM. We were delighted with the turnout, especially as so many MLAs stayed to talk to our guests – patients, carers, clinicians, researchers and healthcare professionals – and to hear about their experiences and concerns first-hand.

The event was sponsored by Jo-Anne Dobson MLA, and she spoke with conviction of the need to see changes made across Northern Ireland to increase awareness and early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Jo-Anne also highlighted just how many buildings and venues across Northern Ireland were taking part in our Purple Lights for Hope campaign as part of PCAM as a result of Michelle Penney, our Community Co-ordinator, liaising with councils across the country

There then followed three powerful and emotional speeches from people who have personal experience of pancreatic cancer. Victoria Poole told the story of her nanny’s late diagnosis and called for more to be done to increase awareness of the disease and speed up diagnosis. Grainne O’Neill spoke movingly of her mummy’s battle with pancreatic cancer, how she has set up the Fight on For Annie Fund in her memory, and called for more research funding into diagnosing and treating the disease. And Olive Buckley told the guests how she was diagnosed earlier this year, how she knew nothing about pancreatic cancer until she was diagnosed, and spoke bravely about how she was determined to do what she can to ensure that in future there are better treatments available for patients.

Our own Northern Ireland Community Involvement Co-Ordinator, Michelle Penney, spoke last. She outlined Pancreatic Cancer UK’s own research funding, support line service and campaigning activities, how we seek to work in partnership with other charities and the NHS across the country to deliver events like health professional training days, and urged MLAs to work with us to improve pancreatic cancer awareness, diagnosis, treatment and care across Northern Ireland.

Collectively, the speeches made a big impression on all those present and we hope that MLAs will continue to engage with us in future to bring about much needed change.

MLAs that attended the event were: Roy Beggs, Tom Buchanan; Judith Cochrane; Jo-Anne Dobson; Phil Flanagan; Sam Gardiner; Sean Lynch; Chris Lyttle; John McCallister; Fra McCann; Rosie McCorley; Basil McCrea; Ian McCrea; Maeve McLaughlin; Oliver McMullan; Mike Nesbitt; Sandra Overend; George Robinson; Neil Somerville; Robin Swann.

National Assembly for Wales Reception

On Tuesday, we held a lunchtime reception in the National Assembly of Wales.
Kindly sponsored by Lynne Neagle AM, the event brought together patients, carers, clinicians, researchers and Assembly Members with the aim of helping raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and ongoing activities across PCAM.

We are grateful to all who attended the event, which proved a fantastic way of bringing together so many dedicated people, who are all working in their own way to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and improve the care provided to patients.

The day provided the opportunity for AMs to learn more about pancreatic cancer from those who have been affected by it and to hear about the need for improved awareness of the disease and earlier diagnosis to tackle the appalling survival rates. They also heard from researchers about their latest projects and the need for more and better pancreatic cancer treatments, and from clinicians about the vital work they carry out on a daily basis caring for pancreatic cancer patients.

Lynne Neagle AM delivered a fantastic speech as did, Pancreatic Cancer UK supporter Linda Reardon, pancreatic cancer patient Andrew Forster and our Head of Campaigns and Policy, David Park.

We are delighted that the National Assembly of Wales will further demonstrate its support for PCAM on World Pancreatic Cancer Day, 13th November, by lighting up purple as part of our Purple Lights for Hope campaign.

The following AMs attended the event: Keith Davies; Janet Finch-Saunders; Janet Howarth; Dr Altaf Hussain; Darren Millar; Lynne Neagle; Gwyn Price; David Rees; Lindsay Whittle; Kirsty Williams.