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Chris Woolmams / Catherine Woollams
The First Catherine Corner

Originally published in Issue 1 2006 icon

Lindsey and Chris
Lindsey and Chris

Father of Catherine and founder member of CANCERactive, Chris Woollams, reports on the day a long-term, shared dream, became a reality as the first Catherine Corner was opened.

Friday March 3rd 2006, it´s 11.46 and I´m late. I´m driving from Epsom down to Chichester on a beautiful, but very slow road, through some of England´s finest green and pleasant land. At high noon in Chichester we open our first Catherine Corner. Fortunately the road clears and the ring road and the level crossing usher me through.

I am next to the bus station in Chichester at the brand new Cancer Wise local support centre - ´your´ local support centre - for West Sussex and East Hampshire. The new centre, located in Tavern House, Basin Road offers support to cancer patients, their relatives, carers and friends.

And at the heart of the centre is a Catherine Corner, looking sleek with its stylish table and chair, and state of the art computer and printer. All the back copies of icon are there in folders, as is a library of two hundred of the most helpful books.

The computer links directly to our charity´s website, but then we are now most probably the UK´s pre-eminent site for all complementary and alternative therapies.

Catherine, Maya and Benny

Little Catherine touches abound... the pink flower in the stylish vase, the visitor´s book for comments, the Catherine screensaver, the photo of her (left) with Maya, the little black girl, and Benny, her own brother.

Visitors can make a cup of herb tea, download the information, put it in a specially designed folder and go and sit in a comfortable chair to read it.

If visitors are not sure what to look for or where to look they can ask Diane Townson or Margaret Dascalopoulos who will be pleased to help. You can access the CANCERactive website directly. It now receives 11,600 ´hits´ per day and is holistic in its approach covering, objectively and thoroughly, all the therapies you might need - be they orthodox, complementary or alternative.

The centre itself offers various therapies and during the year there are lectures and many helpful events. The centre´s approach is based upon the principle that the patient shall be viewed as a whole person, not only as a body with a disease but also as a person with a mind and spirit. The approach is much the same as CANCERactive´s - diet, supplements, mental state (counselling), healing, exercise, relaxation, meditation and more.

The original centre was founded in 1982 by David Holmes, Dr Roger Field and two local people. It rapidly grew into a large organisation involving medically trained doctors, qualified complementary experts and trained counsellors. Until this latest development and new building, the charity was called the Wessex Cancer Help Centre. Its patrons include the Duchess of Richmond and Gordon and Sir Patrick Moore and it has an active board of directors.

The catchment area stretches from Southampton through Portsmouth to Brighton in the east. The help and guidance on offer is excellent and I doubt that it will be long before further expansion of the centre is necessary.

The openingCrowd gathering
TV Presenter Sally Taylor cuts the ribbon The Crowd Gathers

The CANCERactive team is so proud to have the first ever purpose-built Catherine Corner in Chichester and is looking forward to the next stage of the development, which is well under way. The second Catherine Corner, this time in the Wirral, will be even bigger. Due to open in the next few months, it will be based in the Wirral Holistic Care Service.

And in 2007 we hope to add six more Catherine Corners with patient centred programmes, offering the best of the learning in each centre. In the Wirral, for example, the centre is run by Dorothy Crowther, an expert on Gerson Therapy. We aim to make our Catherine Corners centres of excellence.

Meanwhile, a packed gathering at the launch at Chichester were clearly delighted to witness the opening of this impressive facility and the culmination of a shared dream, which will certainly make a difference to people in the local area.

It´s certainly a very promising start for CANCERactive - we have an aim of twenty such Catherine Corners by 2009, so if you know of any local support groups or centres attached to hospitals that might benefit from a Catherine Corner please let us know. Call 01280 821 211.

Cancer Wise, telephone: 01243 778516, email:

What Is In A Catherine Corner?

A Catherine Corner

  1. A stylish desk, chair, picture of Catherine and vase with a pink flower
  2. A computer which delivers CANCERactive first on screen
  3. A linked printer
  4. Folders
  5. Paper
  6. A library
  7. A Folder of all icon’s in order
  8. Access to a comfy sitting and reading area, and drinks
  9. People knowledgable in building an integrated programme and particularly the Active8 programme.
  10. Ultimately, direct phone access to the CANCERactive help desk

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