A well-known Derry singer has spoken of how losing his mother prompted him and his family to help other cancer sufferers access treatment in Belfast.
Jason Hughes was speaking as he and his father, Jimmy, launched a new Northern Irish Cancer Care charity minibus service for cancer patients in the North West.
The launch took place at the entrance to the South Wing of Altnagelvin Hospital yesterday morning and was attended by the Mayor of Derry Brenda Stevenson.
The free bus service is being funded through public donations, collections and draws organised by the family and a team of local volunteers, as well as the proceeds from their Northern Irish Cancer Care charity shop on Spencer Road.
The name of the charity was designed to incorporate the name of Jimmy’s wife and Jason’s mother, Iris.
Jason Hughes, who is known locally as an accomplished singer and Garth Brooks tribute artist, said: “My mother passed away just over three years ago with cancer and we registered the charity to help cancer patients and their families.
“We have got fantastic support with Altnagelvin Hospital, Liz England and the PSNI Neighbourhood Unit are helping us and the Mayor has also kindly offered to help us.”
Speaking about the need for the service, Jason added: “We found that whenever my mum was getting treated in Belfast for cancer, there were a lot of patients not sick enough to get an ambulance but too sick to drive, so we felt we could help these people along, the patients and their families, take a bit of the burden off them and support them.”
Mayor Stevenson said: “It’s very, very important, given that we don’t have our own radiology clinic here yet in Altnagelvin and we are waiting on it being completed, that people who are having to travel up for treatment to Belfast can now go on the bus. They can go together, have a bit of camaraderie, a bit of support for each other and it’s there on a regular basis.
She added: “A lot of people down in this area don’t have access to transport and therefore are dependant on family members or taxis to get up for their much-needed treatment so I think this is a very welcome service, and I want to congratulate Jason for having the foresight to bring it forward.”
Volunteers from Northern Irish Cancer Care will be fundraising in the city centre this Saturday. Donations can also be left at the charity shop on Spencer Road.
The charity is non-funded and non-salaried and 100% of all money raised by the charity goes towards funding the cancer treatment transport service.