Teenage Cancer Trust open new state-of-the-art unit in Glasgow

Royalty, a rock legend and a popular comedian put a smile on the faces of young children as they opened a state-of-the-art cancer unit in Glasgow.

The Who frontman and long-time charity patron Roger Daltrey joined Kevin Bridges and Sarah, Duchess of York, at the new Teenage Cancer Trust unit designed to look after 13 to 16-year-olds in the Royal Hospital for Children.

They met staff as they toured the unit, unveiled a plaque and posed for dozens of selfies with young people and their parents in the ward.

A group of young cancer patients helped to design the £400,000 unit, which has eight bedrooms and a large social area where young people can play computer games, listen to music or watch films and TV.

Daltrey got involved with the trust 26 years ago and sets up an annual concert at the Albert Hall to raise funds for it.

He said: “I remember my teenage years so well, they’re imprinted in my head.

“I call them my ‘Tommy years’ when I was deaf, dumb and blind, and I think that really does sum up the teenage years in a lot of ways – they’re completely different to children and adults, and I kind of identified with that loneliness of those years.

“When I was told about the hospital situation for teenagers with cancer a couple of decades ago, where they were basically either isolated with children or put in with geriatrics, I decided to get involved with this charity.

“This the 30th hospital ward in the country and I see every time what a difference it makes.”

It is the fourth Teenage Cancer Trust unit in Scotland, designed to be like a “home from home rather than a hospital ward” where young people can receive specialist cancer care and meet others going through similar experiences.

About 200 young people are diagnosed with cancer each year in Scotland and the charity said it needs to raise £2,400 a day to maintain its services across the country.

The duchess – also an honorary patron – said: “I think the great thing with the trust is that the teenagers speak, and not us, and they drive the design and the change and the great atmosphere.

“The first visit I made was to the Middlesex Hospital in London and I remember thinking it was great to see all the teenagers together.

“All there was to make it look different was a blue wall and a green floor, but now they have world-class medical equipment and a terrific social area where they can play and be together.”

Bridges has hosted the Teenage Cancer Trust concert arranged by Daltrey and said his involvement with the charity was “pretty humbling”.

“At first I find these things difficult because obviously you’re nervous about what the kids are going through and you don’t want to be coming in cracking jokes and making light of it, but I think I realised that they still want a bit of that because they’re still young people,” the comedian said.

“If I can take their mind off it in any way and it cheers them up, then it’s great and also pretty humbling.”

Among those to meet the patrons was 18-year-old Connor McDowall from Glasgow.

He was 12 when he was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia but two years after being given the all-clear he was re-diagnosed and is currently receiving treatment on the unit.

He said: “I’ve made so many friends here and had some wonderful fun experiences both on and off the unit.

“The emotional support has made a big difference to me, whether it is just sitting chatting or playing on the Xbox, it’s been a great distraction at a difficult time for me.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2016, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Jon Brady / PA Wire.