Charity's vision comes to life as new Norwich centre works begin
- Credit: Danielle Booden
Cancer patients and their families have only months to wait for the opening of a new state-of-the-art support centre in of Norwich.
Norfolk and Waveney cancer charity Big C marked the 'breaking of the ground' milestone as it began redeveloping the former Blockbuster shop on Dereham Road.
It is hoped the centre will be built within six months and open at the start of 2022.
David Moar, co-founder of Big C, said he was eternally gratefully for the community's support over the last 42 years including raising the £500,000 towards the development.
He said: "It was a cold February afternoon looking out the window at Charing Cross Hospital where we had to come for treatment as it was not in Norfolk. I'm pleased to say it's available now.
"I made a throwaway remark to a fellow patient that 'we ought to do something about this' and it resulted in Big C, 42 years ago. It seems a lifetime.
"This is another milestone in Big C's history today."
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The centre will run alongside services at its centre at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, providing welfare and wellbeing offerings including one-to-one counselling, group activities and a sensory garden.
The charity is relaunching its Nearer to Home Appeal to raise a further £250,000 to complete the building and furnish the centre.
It was also announced two new centres will open in the coming weeks in Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn, with plans to establish support in Wells and Thetford.
Dr Chris Bushby, chief executive of Big C, said there was a crucial need to provide the same level of support in the community.
He said: "We wanted to have a centre in the heart of the community.
"It will be a special place where those with a cancer diagnosis and their families can continue to access support away from a medical environment.”
A ceremony to mark the beginning of the building work on Wednesday attended by the lord mayor of Norwich Kevin Maguire and the sheriff of Norwich Caroline Jarrold.
Remembering his late wife Liz Maguire, who was diagnosed with cancer, the lord mayor said if the centre existed then it would have been well used.
He added: "It is so close to the city and Norwich will be grateful."