A CANCER charity which supports patients across the area is set to close due to a fall in donations.
The Friends of Oncology and Radiotherapy Trust, known as the FORT Cancer Charity, has announced that it will shut down at the end of May.
The charity was set up in 1992 by a group of ladies who had been successfully treated for cancer and who wanted to help others.
They worked to raise money for the oncology department of the Portsmouth Group of Hospitals.
The charity supported patients from around the Portsmouth area taking in Gosport, Fareham, Petersfield, Havant, Chichester and Bognor Regis.
Margaret Francis, secretary to the board of trustees, said: ‘Under the new arrangements between the Hospital Trust, the hospital landlords and charitable funders, it has become increasingly difficult for charitable funds to be directed to the hospital, and not the private company landlords.
‘Since the move to Queen Alexandra Hospital from St Mary’s Hospital, and the closure of Haslar Hospital, income has fallen greatly.
‘Also, with the financial climate as it has been during the past three years, we have lost our corporate sponsors and, in general, donations have understandably been smaller.
‘It is therefore with great sadness that we can no longer continue with this service.’
The charity’s first appeal raised £150,000 to help buy a microselectron machine to treat cancer patients.
Since then thousands has been raised for the refurbishment of wards, day care units, reception areas and for new equipment.
In recent years the charity provided a respite holiday home where patients and their carers could come to terms with their diagnosis.
And the charity held an annual event at Canoe Lake in Southsea called the Lake of Lights.
It gave people the chance to light a candle and float it in the water in memory of those they had lost to cancer.
Ms Francis added: ‘The Board of Trustees would like to convey their sincere thanks to all those who have supported the charity in the past.’
Any remaining money from the charity will be passed onto the Wessex Cancer Trust.
The trust proposes to provide a support centre in Portsmouth, and a minibus to travel between the ferries and hospital by the end of the year.
Anyone with a collection box for the charity are asked to contact Ms Francis on (023) 9281 7078 so she can arrange for collection.
by RUTH SCAMMELL