Former cancer battler provides vital cash towards £108,000 hospital unit refurbishment for Hartlepool chemotherapy patients

Tony Larkin pictured with the guitar signed by The Jacksons.
Tony Larkin pictured with the guitar signed by The Jacksons.

A Hartlepool charity champion has given a £54,000 boost to refurbish a hospital unit that helped him beat cancer.

The eight-week refurbishment of the chemotherapy unit at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust received a £54,000 donation from Hartlepool-based Music v Cancer, which was founded by former patient Tony Larkin.

The refurbished chemotherapy unit.

The refurbished chemotherapy unit.

Hartlepool man Tony, 53, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2009 and set up the charity in 2010, has been volunteering for the trust for nearly nine years.

By running his legendary ‘weekender’ gigs – attracting artists such as The Magic Numbers, Jack Savoretti and The Blow Monkeys – Tony was able to hand over £54,000 to North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust which was matched pound for pound by the hospital to pay for a full refurbishment of the chemotherapy ward.

The total investment stands at £108,000.

Tony, who is now eight years all clear, said: “I am so thrilled that this project has come to fruition.

The refurbished chemotherapy unit.

The refurbished chemotherapy unit.

“The chemo ward was a bit tired, quite impersonal and the layout made it difficult for private consultation and treatment.

“I think that the refurbishment has made it far more user friendly for staff and more personal for patients.

“I know that the refurbishment will bring a touch of much-needed comfort to those staff and patients who will be using it.”

The new-look unit at the University Hospital of North Tees will be officially opened on Monday by Julie Gillon, chief executive at the trust.

The work focused on both building and cosmetic works, creating a new reception area so each patient could be greeted on arrival and creating a bright area with enhanced lighting to improve the patient experience when receiving treatment.

By restructuring the layout of the unit, everything is at hand for the nurses so they can spend more time with the patients who need them most.

The introduction of separate treatment rooms provides patients with privacy and dignity during assessment.

A new roof has also been added to the conservatory so that patients can use it comfortably all year round.

Ms Gillon said: “We can’t thank Tony and his charity enough for their generosity.

"This refurbishment will improve the lives of so many people who come to our trust to receive chemotherapy treatment.

"The team on the unit are dedicated to delivering the best level of care for their patients and this new facility will help them immensely.”

Michelle Holmes, chemotherapy matron at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Feedback from our patients who have been in for treatment since the refurb has been overwhelmingly positive.

"It is highly regarded within the community and both patients and families are forever showing their gratitude – people are choosing us to provide their treatment!

"I would just like to say a huge thanks to Tony and his team for making our dream a reality.”