The Star's £100,000 Macmillan challenge to local business

THE Star has joined forces with a leading cancer charity which is celebrating its 100th anniversary - to encourage South Yorkshire businesses to help make its centenary year go with a fundraising bang.

Macmillan Cancer Support is marking its milestone birthday with the launch of The Star Business Challenge - appealing for 100 or more local firms to raise a total of 100,000 for the charity during 2011.

The Star's Editor John Furbisher said: "I'm delighted The Star is teaming up with Macmillan as local partner for the Business Challenge. Companies in this region have shown themselves time and again to have big hearts and big ideas, so I'm sure there'll be no shortage of business people coming forward with fundraising plans.

"Macmillan has achieved so much in its first 100 years and does such wonderful work. Let's all help it launch its second century in style by showing how much we care."

Companies are invited to help in different ways - from staff members organising or taking part in fundraising events, to encouraging support for Macmillan from their customers, or making a one-off donation.

Maxine Astley-Pepper, Macmillan development manager for Sheffield, Barnsley and Chesterfield, said: "In our centenary year we want to get the message across that Macmillan is not just involved at the end stages of life as historically people might think.

"We are there very much from the beginning of the cancer journey at diagnosis, and also beforehand in terms of prevention and advice on keeping well.

"We want to use our anniversary year to change attitudes and raise awareness that we are there for people all the way along, and not just the patients but also their family and friends too.

"We want to keep growing and building on what we have already achieved, encouraging local people across South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire to get involved with the charity - whether that be to give something back after a cancer battle themselves or simply to contribute something positive to their communities through fundraising and volunteering."

Douglas Macmillan set up the Society for the Prevention and Relief of Cancer after his father died in pain, with the aim of providing advice and information for those affected by the illness, residential care for patients at a low or no cost and voluntary nurses to visit sufferers in their own homes.

A century later and Douglas's legacy lives on through the charity which works to support patients and their families across South Yorkshire in a host of different ways.

From the practical nursing care provided by 151 Macmillan health professionals across the region - including everyone from nurses to physiotherapists and dieticians - to financial advice provided through welfare rights teams in Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham - who have accessed 2m in benefits for people affected by cancer - their work is wide and far reaching.

The charity also provides information, advice and emotional support at centres within Rotherham General Hospital and St John's Hospice in Doncaster and has joined forces with the Cancer Backup UK organisation making them the largest provider of cancer literature.

People can also get help through its dedicated cancer support number on 0808 808 0000 and apply to the small grants team for financial help to cover the costs of clothing, fuel and transport.

There are 20 support or self-help groups for different types of cancer across the region working with Macmillan, including the Semi-colons for bowel cancer sufferers and survivors in Sheffield and Doncaster Life After Breast Cancer group.

The charity is also working on a number of local pilot projects looking at how those who have recovered from cancer can be supported to return to 'normal life'.

Another huge area of Macmillan's work involves campaigning on a national level for changes that benefit cancer patients and their families.

In 2008 it was successful in getting free prescription charges, while ongoing campaigns include tackling fuel poverty, getting rid of hospital car parking fees and securing more support to allow people to work as they battle against the disease.

Firms across the region are being invited to play their part during the centenary year by signing up for The Star-backed Business Challenge.

Steve Loane, area fundraising manager for Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, said: "Our goal is to raise at least 100,000 from local companies to support our work.

"We also want to raise awareness about Macmillan and our local services, so that they are more accessible to people who need them.

"There are a whole range of events and ways that businesses can get involved and help us to celebrate the charity's 100th year.

"Any company or local pub that takes part will receive a special fundraising pack, support from our fundraising team, dedicated coverage in The Star and on both our websites and an invite to a special networking event towards the end of the year."

- Firms interested in signing up for the Business Challenge should contact the Macmillan South Yorkshire fundraising office by email to sloane@macmillan.org.uk or call 01246 810301.

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