Woolverstone Wish was founded in 2009 by a group of hospital staff, patients and friends who saw an urgent need to improve the Woolverstone Wing of Ipswich Hospital. The unit had been oversubscribed for years. Patients had experienced cramped conditions, had to travel for treatment or be admitted to the hospital overnight as a result. Often lack of space meant that it wasn't possible for people to have family with them during treatment, or receive information in private.
But with the first cheque of £250 banked, the appeal, and the hope for improved conditions, was born. What followed in the next seven years would be a surprise to all involved.
Slowly but surely the Woolverstone Wish became know in the local area and gained support. And, as momentum grew, and more and more people became involved with the appeal, the total grew faster than we ever expected.
From young school children selling homemade cakes to octogenarians hosting coffee mornings, a huge variety of fundraising was undertaken by people of all ages. Individuals and local companies got on board and did everything from abseil down the maternity block to riding coast to coast, from cutting off their hair and dying it purple to organising balls, car boot sales, clothes swaps, fun runs, 24 hour spinning events, carol services, and catwalk shows - to name just a few.
We even tried to break a world record - working with Kersey's Solicitors we tried not once, but twice, to break the world record for the largest gathering of fairies in one place. Each time we came so close, being pipped at the post, missing the target by only a handful of fairies. But, we raised some money, and made some fantastic memories!
Sometimes we'd help supporters with their events, other times we'd receive a cheque and a letter telling us how the money had been raised. But no matter what, we were always very grateful and humbled by the support we received.
It was without a doubt an appeal that captured the hearts of local people, the support was astounding, and in November 2014, just five years after the appeal started, Woolverstone Wish reached it's target of £800,000. The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust Charitable Fund made this up to a cool £1M.
But reaching our goal didn't mean refurbishment would commence. In the months leading up to reaching our target, the appeal had caught the attention of Macmillan Cancer Support. In November 2014 Woolverstone Wish, the Trust, and Macmillan joined forces, launching an appeal to raise a further £3.7M, transforming our goal of refurbishment to one of a brand new, purpose built £4.7M state-of-the-art cancer centre. This by far exceeded the original hopes of the Woolverstone Wish committee.
Fundraising continued and on Monday, 16th May 2016, the new cancer centre opened its doors and welcomed patients for the very first time. The Woolverstone Wing had been transformed; bringing together outpatient chemotherapy, oncology and haematology day services.
Our dream had become a reality. The new centre allows patients to experience treatment in the best environment possible.
And so after 7 years of fundraising, the last two as a Macmillan Fundraising Group, the Woolverstone Wish committee decided, that with the new unit open and treating patients, it was time to take a step back and retire from active fundraising. With a Mad Hatter's Ball we said an emotional farewell to what had been a truly amazing experience for us all. We lost some very special people along the way, but made some amazing friends too. It's a time that none of us will forget.
We'd like to say what an amazing journey we had over those seven years. And to thank each and every one of our supporters for your fundraising efforts, help and encouragement. Without you, the new unit at Ipswich Hospital would never have become a reality. Without your support and fundraising efforts, we, Macmillan Cancer Support, and Ipswich Hospital Trust would never have come together and elevated our goal for refurbishment to a state-of-the-art cancer centre.
No matter what you did to help, be it donate a few pounds or organise numerous events, we want you to know how grateful we are and that you should be so proud of yourselves - it's you who have given Ipswich and the surrounding area this amazing gift, it's you who have helped make a huge difference to the lives of local people affected by cancer for generations to come.