About Us

Based on current statistics, cancer will affect one in two people in the UK. Following a diagnosis, CancerHelp is here to help each step of the way – be that coming to terms with the diagnosis, understanding the disease, coping with the effects of the treatment and above all helping people to live as fulfilled a life as possible.

CancerHelp (Preston) was formed in 1989 and has supported thousands of people affected by cancer and bereavement in the Preston and central Lancaster areas. Each year the Charity provides over 6,000 client visits/contacts that are free to those accessing services.

So, how did CancerHelp come into being …


Margaret O’Donoghue was a state registered nurse who had worked in and around the health service since 1959. At the time there was no Cancer Centre in Preston, there were no Clinical Nurse Specialists and there were fewer treatment options available to cancer patients.

Margaret was concerned by the insensitive manner in which the diagnosis of cancer was delivered, the lack of support for cancer patients undergoing treatment, the absence of information regarding the disease and the exclusion of the patients’ families and carers from the process. She decided to do something about this and single handedly established the charity, CancerHelp.

Through CancerHelp, cancer patients in central Lancashire have access to a wide range of services that are free at the point of use including:

  • Counselling – wellbeing, bereavement and pre-bereavement;
  • Complementary Therapies –   massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, and sound therapy;
  • Children & Young Persons support service;
  • Art and Craft Groups
  • Access to a range of Support Groups run independently and hosted by CancerHelp
  • Information – how to access services, find out more, receive benefits and additional support.

The CancerHelp team works closely with other organisations providing cancer services – the NHS, other charities and services providers – to help join services up / signpost to other appropriate services to best support clients.

The services are open to all cancer patients, their families and carers living in the Central Lancashire area and the Wyre villages around Garstang. Like cancer, the charity makes no distinction between age, gender, religion or sexual orientation or identity.

Margaret’s vision was always to help all cancer patients live a fulfilled life and to cope with the challenges that cancer presents. CancerHelp is the realisation of Margaret’s vision and without her determination, commitment and belief none of this would exist.

How We Are Funded

All of our core services are provided free of charge  and each year CancerHelp needs to raise around £400,000 to provide these services. Our main source of income is from our two charity shops. 


We also rely on:-

  • Voluntary donations
  • Fundraising events – arranged by individuals or through our ‘Friends’ Fundraising Group
  • Local NHS Service contracts – this amounts to around 12% annual costs.
  • Grant and funding applications
  • Our Membership scheme – become an Annual Member for £15 or a Life Member for £100
  • Funds raised through the Wyre Community Lottery, so purchasing tickets can help generate funds for CancerHelp Wyre Community Lottery

If you would like to support us, fundraising activities and donations make a huge difference to us as a local independent cancer support charity. Cash donations for services and clothing donations for our shops help us to continue to support local people affected by cancer. We make sure that donations are spent wisely, keeping staff levels to a minimum and marketing costs low so that over 80p from every £1 goes back into patient services.

Meet our Trustees

Jonathan Gorick, Chairman
Rachel Mallett, Treasurer
Mike Swift
Hyllarie Patterson, Secretary

Judith Robinson

David Anderson
Reta Rose
Angela Shorrock
Peter Hines


View Our latest Annual Report






Recognising that in the 1980’s cancer services looked very different to how they do today, with support for people other than their treatment being scarce, CancerHelp was formed by Margaret O’Donoghue.

Margaret was a trained nurse and health visitor and her personal experience when her Mother was diagnosed with cancer was that there was little support available, and support for family members simply was not there.

Together with a number of other people who felt this needed to change, Margaret set about creating something for people in Preston. Support services were offered initially out of church halls and then out of the first floor of what is became the Charity’s Plungington Road charity shop. With sustained fundraising sufficient monies were raised to buy Vine House and start converting the property into a cancer support centre.

From these humble beginnings the Charity now has two day centres, one in Preston (Vine House) and the other in Garstang (Croston House) and two charity shops.

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Annual Report

Cancer Help believes that charities that are supported by the general public should be as transparent as is possible whilst protecting patients’ confidentiality.

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