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Cancer charity calls it a day with final donation after 30 years of fantastic fundraising

Cancer charity calls it a day with final donation after 30 years of fantastic fundraising

NDCCCT chairman James Bonetta and volunteers present the charity’s final fundraising cheque to Carolyn Mills, Chief Nursing Officer at Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
NDCCCT chairman James Bonetta and volunteers present the charity’s final fundraising cheque to Carolyn Mills, Chief Nursing Officer at Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

A charity run entirely by volunteers has made one last donation after more than 30 years of incredible fundraising for North Devon cancer patients.

The North Devon Cancer Care Centre Trust (NDCCCT) was set up by the late Jennifer Bonetta in 1994 following the death from cancer of her husband, Tom.

Jennifer launched the charity from the dining room table of her Northam home and thanks to fundraising events by the local community and the profits from a Westward Ho! charity shop, raised an astonishing £3million for cancer services in North Devon.

Some of the early projects included helping to fund North Devon District Hospital’s (NDDH) first chemotherapy units on Level 5, Level 4 and then Level 2, as well as the chemotherapy pharmacy unit. NDCCCT also provided a transport service to take patients from North Devon and Torridge to and from their treatments in Exeter.

The charity raised £700k for the chemotherapy Seamoor Unit at NDDH, which opened in 2015 following a £2.2m fundraising appeal.

More recently, it contributed £100,000 towards the building of the hospital’s £1.5m Fern Centre, which provides wellbeing support to local cancer patients. It has also donated £117,000 towards counselling and complimentary therapy costs at the Fern Centre.

Jennifer Bonetta died in 2011 aged 78, a few years before the Seamoor Unit opened but a treatment room in the unit is named after Jennifer in recognition of her support.

The charity was continued by her son James and a devoted committee of volunteers, many of whom attended a special presentation at the Seamoor Unit on Monday afternoon.

Presenting the charity’s final cheque for £123,346, James said he hoped the legacy of his mum’s charity would continue to help cancer patients in North Devon.

“Mum set up NDCCCT to provide cancer services in North Devon so that patients here could receive treatment closer to home,” said James, who became the chairman of the charity and helped steer the build of the Seamoor Unit.


James Bonetta

“We have only been able to do so much thanks to such generous support from the people of North Devon over the years and it’s fitting that our final donation will continue to support local cancer patients and give them access to the best possible treatment.”

NDCCCT’s last donation will fund a machine to treat small bladder tumours in outpatients, freeing up theatre time for more complex procedures; a machine to treat early rectal cancers, meaning patients no longer need to travel to Cheltenham; cold cap equipment to help reduce hair loss during chemotherapy treatment; a wash room in the Seamoor Unit; and an ECG machine and phlebotomy trolley and chair for the Seamoor Unit so that patients can receive all the information they need in one setting without interruption.

“Although we are closing NDCCCT, it’s great to see Royal Devon Hospitals Charity (RDHC) continue to fly the fundraising flag for North Devon’s cancer services,” added James.

A key part of NDCCCT’s fundraising efforts was their charity shop in Westward Ho! The shop initially opened for just a few days but soon became a well-known shopping destination, open six-days-a-week, all year round. Royal Devon Hospitals Charity (formerly Over and Above) took on the shop in 2021 and all the money raised in the shop, and the charity’s Rose Lane shop in Barnstaple, continues to support local cancer patients by helping to fund the annual running costs of the Fern Centre.

James Bonetta and former NDCCCT trustee Ray Sawtell unveil a plaque in the Seamoor Unit.
James Bonetta and former NDCCCT trustee Ray Sawtell unveil a plaque in the Seamoor Unit.

Julie Whitton, fundraiser for RDHC said: “NDCCCT are inspirational and it was their overwhelming support and determination to see a chemotherapy service in North Devon that helped make the Seamoor Unit a reality.

“The charity also gave us the belief that we could do it again, and with their support we were able to build the Fern Centre.


Julie Whitton

Charlotte Overney, Associate Director of nursing at Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “NDCCCT has supported us in many ways over the years, funding nursing posts, travel for patients and equipment and much more. The difference this has made is unmeasurable.

“The Seamoor Unit was built by the supporters of North Devon but the passion and support from the charity, its supporters and James was so apparent and I cannot thank you all enough for helping us make that happen.”

Carolyn Mills, Chief Nursing Officer at Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said the charity’s support had been ‘invaluable’ to the Trust.

“The incredible efforts of NDCCCT have meant local people can get more and more of their cancer treatment locally in amazing care environments,” she said.

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