Oldham people urged to shop to save lives

People in Oldham are being urged to shop to save lives, as the Cancer Research UK shop re-opens after a devastating closure.

Three months on, staff and volunteers at the store in High Street are now getting back to business to tackle a shortfall in funding, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With its shops typically contributing more than £25 million every year to vital research, Cancer Research UK has suffered a dramatic loss of income since they were forced to close temporarily at the end of March.

Highlighting the scale of the funding gap, the call to support the Oldham shop coincides with the launch of an urgent new TV appeal to help get the charity’s life-saving work back on track.

Its customers are a key part of this effort, so strict measures are being followed to ensure people in the town can shop, volunteer and donate goods safely.

These include social distancing, hand sanitiser stations, cough guards at till points, face coverings and gloves for shop staff and volunteers, additional cleaning and a 72-hour quarantine period for donated items.

Corey (pictured), aged seven, from Limeside, who was treated for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – a cancer of the white blood cells, had to learn to walk again following treatment. The youngster, who attends Holy Family RC Primary School, was diagnosed with ALL in 2016.

Lynn-Marie and Corey’s dad Mark Ashton, received the devastating news Corey had cancer after Lynne-Marie took him to A&E at Oldham Royal Infirmary when a high temperature and persistent cough failed to go away. Corey was initially diagnosed with pneumonia but then routine blood tests showed he also had leukaemia. 

He was given an immediate blood and platelets transfusion and had to spend the next 13 weeks in hospital, fighting the pneumonia and receiving intensive chemotherapy.

Corey’s treatment also involved many lumbar procedures, including some where chemotherapy drugs were injected directly into his spine, carried out under general anaesthetic.

Manchester City fan Corey has a big brother called Tyler and a baby sister called Paisley. Sadly, Corey’s treatment caused a number of side effects and as well as losing his hair, he also became so weak from being bed-ridden that he needed physiotherapy to learn to walk again. He still needs regular check-ups, but has made a good recovery.

He was guest of honour when the Oldham shop opened in 2019.

Lynn-Marie, aged 34, who volunteers at her sons’ primary school, said: “Our family knows first-hand just how important new discoveries are to help more people survive and we understand all too clearly what a lack of funding could mean for the development of new treatments for people like Corey. 

“Research has given us more precious time with Corey, so I hope people in Oldham will be inspired by the charity’s determination to carry on beating cancer and show their support – they really could save lives.”

Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK North West spokeswoman, said: “To save lives tomorrow, we need the public’s support today - so we want people to know we’re making every effort to create a safe shopping experience.

“COVID-19 has hit us hard and after three long months we’re delighted to be able to welcome new and familiar faces back through our doors again, as well as a host of new donations.

“Our shops are full of new and pre-loved items, fashion one-offs and homeware treasures – particularly after lockdown clear-outs. As well as being sold at bargain prices, every sale helps to fund our work. But right now, clinical trials are being postponed and we’re having to delay vital research.

“That’s why we’re asking our Oldham customers to do what they can. Whether they shop, donate goods or volunteer their time – all are essential to help us keep making breakthroughs for people with cancer.”

Thanks to the generosity of its supporters Cancer Research UK currently funds around 50% of all cancer research in the UK.

However, as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, it expects to see its fundraising income decline by up to 30 per cent in the financial year ahead – putting this research at risk.

Jane added: “COVID-19 has slowed us down. But we will never stop. With around 41,000 people diagnosed with cancer every year in the North West, we are absolutely determined to continue creating better cancer treatments for the future.

“Every step our scientists take towards beating cancer relies on every pound raised. So, with the help of shoppers in Oldham we believe that together we will still beat cancer.” 

Cancer Research UK was able to spend more than £30 million in the North West last year on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.

For more information visit cruk.org/shops

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