Norwich cancer survivor’s charity dream about to become a reality
A prostate cancer survivor has told how it is a dream come true to be on the verge of officially launching a new charity – just a year after kick-starting a major fundraising drive.
Mel Lacey, a former policeman, was diagnosed with cancer two years ago after being prompted to go for a test by a friend who was suffering from the disease.
Mr Lacey, now 62, had no symptoms but the PSA (prostate specific antigens) blood test pointed to a problem and he was referred to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where the cancer was diagnosed and treated.
His recovery from the disease prompted him to want to do something to help other men by launching a charity to fund research and raise awareness about male cancers.
This desire to set up a Blue Ribbon Foundation to emulate the work the Pink Ribbon Foundation does for women was intensified when, in December last year, 66-year-old Horsford man Gerry Davies died from lung cancer.
His heartbroken wife Jane had heard about Mr Lacey's charity bid and arranged for donations at his funeral to be put towards the charity.
Mr Lacey had to raise an initial �5,000 to get the charity off the ground and has now surpassed that target after a year of fundraising, which included a charity concert at the University of East Anglia in April.
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The father-of-two and grandfather-of-one, who lives in Norwich, now has a national company willing to sponsor the charity and a professional website, and blue ribbon logo being worked on at the moment.
All being well, Mr Lacey said he hopes the charity, which will target all male cancers, will get its official launch at the end of February – just in time for national Prostate Cancer Week.
He said: 'It's all getting very exciting. My main fundraising efforts started about this time last year and here we are a year later and the money has been raised to start the charity and now a national company has just come on board and agreed to sponsor the charity.
'I'm thrilled, absolutely thrilled. It's obviously now going to be a national launch, hopefully at the end of February, and who could've dreamed that a year ago?'
Mr Lacey said he was eternally grateful to all the people that have supported him, financially or otherwise, in his bid to get the charity off the ground.
He said: 'From when I started the fundraising effort, we've raised the money with lots of help from lots of people and the support from the Evening News has been absolutely brilliant.'
Mr Lacey said he hoped the main message that he could get across to other men through the charity was the need to make them aware about the threats to their health.
He said: 'I had a close shave and I thought how lucky I've been, and I've now got to do my bit to wake other people up so other blokes can say 'hey, this is what I've got to do'. For me cancer was something that happened to other people. But if we can wake people up to the threat, take it on board and do something about it, then that will be fantastic.'
Mr Lacey said he would continue to be 'intrinsically linked' to the charity after its launch, although inevitably the focus will be less on him personally when it becomes a national organisation.
Anyone interested in supporting the Blue Ribbon Foundation should contact Mr Lacey via email@example.com
Are you raising money in memory of a loved one or friend? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email firstname.lastname@example.org