A CHARITY that provides free practical, emotional and social support for people living with cancer is moving forward with a new centre at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre site in Wirral.

Maggie’s Merseyside aims to bring additional support for people living with the disease across Wirral, Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales.

A groundbreaking ceremony has taken place and builders have now moved onto the site to prepare for construction.

Steve Morgan CBE, Chairman of the Steve Morgan Foundation, has pledged his support to build a new Maggie’s Centre to replace the much-used current interim facility.

He said: “I am delighted that the Steve Morgan Foundation is to embark on its biggest capital project to date in partnership with Maggie’s.

“So many people have been affected by cancer, or know someone who has been affected by cancer, and the work undertaken by the staff at Maggie’s Centres across the country offers invaluable practical and emotional support when people who are being treated – and their families and friends ‐ need it most.

“All of our trustees are delighted to be able to make such a substantial investment and that Alexis Redmond has agreed to Chair the Board of Maggie’s Merseyside to oversee the launch of the appeal to raise funds for the ongoing running costs."

The project is part of a £5 million donation to build two new Maggie’s centres, one to replace the existing centre at Clatterbridge, Wirral and then another at Royal Liverpool Hospital in the City Centre.

Since opening the interim centre in the grounds of The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in June 2014, Maggie’s Merseyside has provided emotional and psychological support to over 65,000 visitors, including those who are living with cancer and their families and friends.

Kathy Wright, Centre Head at Maggie’s Merseyside, said: “We are delighted ground breaking has begun. A new Maggie’s Centre will allow our team of qualified professionals to provide high quality support to more people living with cancer at their most vulnerable time, in a warm and welcoming environment.

"We are extremely grateful to the Steve Morgan Foundation and we cannot thank them enough for making that a possibility. Without their help we simply could not manage to sustain the level of support with the growing centre visitor numbers as the current interim centre does not have the capacity. As a team we are excited for the future of Maggie’s Merseyside and we know this will have such a positive impact on our centre visitors."

John Blain lost his wife to cancer 15 years ago and has been visiting Maggie’s recently with daughter Katherine following her own cancer diagnosis. John said he benefits from talking to others facing similar situations to them.

Another visitor, Kathrine, has accessed parts of the successful evidenced-based programme of support including the social aspect of ‘Expressive Arts.’

She said: "Maggie’s is so important to me, there is the sense of an extended family to offer a friendly and much-needed hug especially on the days when I struggle most. It is vital we raise the ‘Million for Maggie’s’ to help others find the camaraderie and hope that I have."

Liz Bishop, Chief Executive of The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, added: “We are really excited that work on the new Maggie’s Centre will start soon.

“Maggie’s Merseyside provides a vital service to our patients, enhancing the outstanding care they receive at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and we can’t wait to see the new centre taking shape and continuing this important work in new and improved surroundings.”

To find out more about Maggie’s and how to fundraise for the new Maggie’s Centre contact Sasha Mathias at sasha.mathias@maggiescentres.org or 0151 334 4301.

For further information about Steve Morgan Foundation go to www.stevemorganfoundation.org.uk

And for further information about Maggie’s Merseyside check out www.maggiescentres.org/our‐centres/maggies‐merseyside