Founder of Preston charity CancerHelp dies after decades of service to health work

Posted on - 20th August, 2021 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - Charities, Preston News, Ribbleton
Margaret O’Donoghue, founder of CancerHelp

Margaret O’Donoghue, the founder of charity CancerHelp has passed away.


Margaret was a wife, a mother, a grandmother and the proud creator of CancerHelp, a charity that has benefitted thousands of people in Central Lancashire since it was started.

She spent her life working in healthcare from 1959. She trained as a state registered nurse and then began working as a health visitor.

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During her career Margaret started to focus on the wellbeing of patients outside of the NHS. In 1970 she established the Samaritans phone service in Preston, in 1978 the Preston’s Well Woman Centre and in 1981 she became a founder member of St Catherine’s Hospice.

Margaret realised, as she caring for her ill mother, that there was very little support for cancer patients and their carers other than end-of-life support in a hospice.

Cancer treatment back then had a more significant impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of patients, who, were for the most part, left to cope on their own. Margaret realised this and in 1988, helped by friends and supporters, started to raise money to deliver specialist and dedicated cancer support services.

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CancerHelp became an officially registered charity in 1989 and in 1993 the charity moved into Vine House. A second service delivery centre, Croston House in Garstang was opened in 2008,

Both centres deliver a range of services that are now considered vital to the wellbeing of cancer patients, their families, and carers.

In a statement posted to Facebook, CancerHelp said: “Margaret’s philosophy was to create centres that were professional but welcoming and calming; an essential break for people who spend so much time in clinical environments over many months.

“Establishing, and overseeing the growth of a successful charity for 25 years, is a massive undertaking. The success of CancerHelp is, to a large extent, testament to Margaret’s wide-ranging skill set not least her ability to persuade and influence those whose help she needed.

“As well as founder, she was a cancer support nurse, a listener, a speaker, a fundraiser, an advocate, and a source of help for other charities.

“Margaret was available 24 hours a day and spent many nights sitting with dying patients or providing respite for families. CancerHelp is and will remain Margaret’s legacy.

“It is, as Margaret intended over 30 years ago, the main referral point for healthcare professionals seeking support for people affected by cancer in Central Lancashire.

“Margaret O’Donoghue will be missed by everyone associated with CancerHelp and the countless thousands of people she has helped through the charity.”

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