In memory of Helen

PUBLISHED: 11:27 15 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:17 20 February 2013

Helen Rollason

Helen Rollason

The Helen Rollason Cancer Charity has been running for 12 years. Heather Baldwin looks at how the organisation is going from strength to strength in Hertfordshire...

HELEN Rollason Cancer Charity has been part of the local community in Sawbridgeworth since it opened a shop in Bell Street in 2004.

Set in a row of pretty boutiques, the shop is run by a team of enthusiastic volunteers who are responsible for everything from the attractive window displays to organising the stock on the shelves. It is an Aladdins cave inside, selling donated clothes, books and bric-a-brac.

The money raised from the shop helps to fund the work of the charity which is named after the BBC sports presenter, Helen Rollason MBE, who died of cancer aged 43. It supports people living with cancer through support centres, drug trials and pioneering research.

Charity Manager Barry Plowman is a proud resident of Sawbridgeworth. The shop relies on volunteers and donations, he says. We are very grateful to the public and local businesses for their support.

Two years ago, the charity set up the Helen Rollason Cancer Support Centre at the Rivers Hospital in Sawbridgeworth. Opened by sports presenter Clare Balding, it is an award-winning success.

Award-winning care for cancer patients

The centre supports men and women with all types of cancer across Hertfordshire. It provides counselling and therapies to complement their medical treatment and reduce stress including massage and reflexology. It also offers specialist manual lymph drainage massage to help manage lymphoedema, a swelling that can result from cancer treatment. Helen Rollason Cancer Charity makes no charge for these services and the centre provided 1,080 free treatments in a year.

The Sawbridgeworth centre is one of three run by the charity. It was presented with the 2010-11 award for Best Complementary Medicine Organisation from the Institute for Complementary and Natural Medicine in recognition of this work.

Hertfordshire Support Centre Co-ordinator, Linda Bowler, is delighted: Cancer affects people both physically and emotionally. This award recognises the successful way we support our clients with therapies which complement their medical treatment, she adds.

Better treatment and prevention

The Cancer Support Centre is just one of the ways that Helen Rollason Cancer Charity helps cancer patients in Hertfordshire.

It has research centres in London and Chelmsford, each with a team of nurses providing 24-hour care to cancer patients taking part in clinical drug trials. More than 2,850 patients have participated since 2000, resulting in effective new drugs that are now available to the general public.

The facilities at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford were expanded this September to include a specialist research centre for patients receiving treatment within clinical trials. This new Helen Rollason Research Centre a partnership between the charity and the hospital now has the capacity to help more people across Hertfordshire.

The charity also funds a world-class research laboratory at Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford. Currently specialising in the treatment and prevention of breast cancer, the charity hopes to expand this pioneering research in the future.

Doing more for Hertfordshire

As it receives very limited funding, Helen Rollason Cancer Charity depends heavily on its shops and donations from the public and businesses. Knebworth, East Herts and Bishops Stortford Golf Clubs and Mullucks Wells estate agents have all been very supportive.

We are delighted at the success of our Cancer Support Centre and the new Helen Rollason Research Centre, adds Barry. We hope to open another support centre in Hertfordshire to help more people living with cancer in the future.

How you can help

If you are interested in supporting the work of Helen Rollason Cancer Charity, please call 01245 514325 or visit

For information on volunteering or donating to the shop in Sawbridgeworth, call Natalie Perry on 07803 000835.

About Helen Rollason

Founded in 1999, the charity is named after the television presenter, Helen Rollason MBE, who fought her inspirational battle with cancer in the public eye. She believed that: Good quality of life while coping with cancer is the most important gift a sick person can receive; it should be available to everyone. Helen gave her name and support to this charity before she died to help other cancer patients in the future. The Chairman of the charity is Professor Neville Davidson, who was Helens oncologist.

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