About Us

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For over 30 years, our team of volunteers have proudly assisted those battling cancer in the Berwick & District community.

Read more about us below, from our 1992 origins to our exciting plans and developments for the future.

"This organisation ensures safety, dignity and confidentiality, supporting the wellbeing of hundreds of clients and their families whilst sharing the client's journey."
Lord-Lieutenant of Northumberland

Proudly supporting the people of Berwick & District since 1992

1992, The Very Beginning

The Berwick and District Cancer Support Group, commonly known as Berwick Cancer Cars, was founded in 1992 by two women from Spittal, Violet Carter and Kathleen Horsburgh, who were having difficulty accessing their cancer treatment in hospitals over 60 miles away. With exceptional organisation the group grew rapidly and received charitable status in 1994. From having one car the charity now has six and has grown to be one of the finest examples of a community-based charity in the country.

Over the years the need for the charity has not diminished and as we have grown so has the call on our resources. The charity is entirely run by volunteers and is funded by the efforts of the local community. This is very much a community charity supported in many ways in the borough by all ages.

Violet Carter and Kathleen Horsburgh (First Car from Lottery)
Violet (pictured front left) and Kathleen (front right), receiving a donation from a Lottery representative. ca.1996

1992 ~ 2022, 30 Years Of Service

Living in a remote rural area makes it both difficult and expensive for cancer patients and many people would turn down their treatment if they could not access transport. Patients can easily self-refer but we also have an excellent relationship with other organisations who use our services to ensure all cancer sufferers are aware of what we do. The Berwick area is not highly populated but covers a large geographical area (about 20 miles to the west and 25 miles to the south of the main town, Berwick-upon-Tweed). Through the generosity of our supporters, we can offer free transport for those with a cancer diagnosis from Berwick and the surrounding areas to attend their cancer related appointments.

Each year our volunteer team help hundreds of clients to reach their appointments in comfort, safety and without worry to them or their families and loved ones. Our cars making over 1000 roundtrip journeys each year, driving in excess of 100,000 miles between them. The furthest we have driven is to Basingstoke, Hampshire and to Manchester for specialist cancer treatment not offered by our local hospitals at the time. 

In 2020 we were nominated for the North East Charity Awards in the 'Small Charity of the Year 2020 award' category. We were delighted to have made it through as one of three shortlisted finalists and to be acknowledged with a 'Highly Commended' accolade by the judging panel - click here to read more about our commendation in Our News.

Covid-19 had a huge impact on everyone. For us it created a significant challenge for us to continue our service, where previously we could have had up to three clients in a car, during the pandemic we had to limit transport to one client and one driver per car. Physical adjustments were made to the cars and we followed all relevant, official available advice.

Because of the ever-changing nature of cancer treatment, we find patients are expected to go further afield for more specialist treatment which we are well placed to support. 

The Road Ahead

In June 2022 we were honoured with The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, the MBE for voluntary organisations. An accolade that celebrates the exceptional work the charity has achieved in our community through the combined efforts of our volunteers and fantastic supporters.

Future plans include the development of a permanent home for our cars, currently parked outside Asda, and the offer of more support services. Economic changes caused by recent world events have slowed this down but it will happen.

Our charity aims to offer a more holistic service for our clients. There are no purpose built facilities locally for cancer sufferers and since Covid-19 many have felt increasingly lonely and isolated. The future facility will provide a safe environment where we will be able to have complimentary therapies, advice and counselling hubs and self-run groups, all of which are available in the large cities of Newcastle and Edinburgh but not readily accessible to the Berwick & District communities.

Berwick Cancer Cars 2022 30th Anniversary Photo
Our Specially Commissioned Berwick Cancer Cars 30th Anniversary Volunteer Team Picture