CANCER — the big C — affects thousands of people in the UK every year. No respecter of age, gender or social standing, it is the biggest killer of anyone under the age of 75 in this country.

And yet more than 100,000 people recover from cancer or are treated successfully each year.

Elizabeth Harding, of Tavistock, is one of those statistics. And she, along with other local supporters of Britain's leading cancer research organisation, Cancer Research UK, is urging residents in the area to consider ways in which they too can help the work of this vital charity.

Elizabeth, who was treated successfully for breast cancer, said: 'We are so lucky to live in this area. I can't thank the people at Derriford Hospital enough, I am so grateful for the care I received there.

'On my last check-up, I said to the consultant, "I wish there was something i could do to thank you all".

'He promptly turned round and said "Go and do some work for Cancer Research".'

Elizabeth is now a member of the Tavistock support group of Cancer Research UK, a small group, chaired by Dr Peter Rodgers, of Abbey Surgery.

Together, they co-ordinate a variety of fundraising events in the area and channel welcome donations from the community to Cancer Research UK.

In this way, local people are helping towards the charity's multi-million pound campaign to research the disease, to educate, treat and support cancer sufferers, their families and carers.

Jean Thompson acts as secretary of the group.

She became involved after her husband developed cancer.

Jean said: 'What we would really like is a few more people to join us, particularly younger people, and some fresh ideas for raising money.

'We've raised quite a lot of money through incidental things — people asking for donations at birthdays or wedding anniversaries is becoming a lot more popular now.

'We've recently had our quiz evening, with Peter as our quizmaster, which became quite an evening of laughter and hilarity.'

The group believes there is huge potential and talent within the Tavistock community that could be used for the good of charities like Cancer Research UK.

They say there are wonderful new sports facilities which could be used for events and there are fantastic singers, bands and choirs around.

'It can actually be incredibly rewarding and fun to get involved as part of a team helping to fight a disease that touches us all in one way or another,' they said.

Cancer Research UK funds about two thirds of all cancer research work in the UK, and is the biggest single supporter of research into children's cancers in the country, at a cost of more than £260-million a year. It leads Europe in the development of anti-cancer drugs and funds more than 3,000 scientists, doctors and nurses in the UK.

In Devon alone, Cancer Research UK is funding or part-funding more than 100 trials.

These range from a trial examining how acupuncture can help relieve sickness from chemotherapy and a study to identify the genetic causes of testicular cancer, to a study into the causes of stomach and food pipe cancer.

Tavistock Cancer Research group would love to hear from anyone who would like to join them, anyone with fundraising suggestions or people who can give an hour or two of their time to help such a worthy cause. For more information call Jean Thompson on 01822 614635.