Gorgeous Media’s Work with CancerCare in North Lancashire

Over the last twelve months I have been working with local charity CancerCare.  CancerCare is a unique independent charity dedicated to helping families affected by cancer and other potentially life limiting conditions living in North Lancashire and South Cumbria.

If you live in Lancaster and Morecambe district, you will probably know someone who has accessed their services:  CancerCare’s been around for the last 35 years or so.  It was set up by Malcom McIllmurray amongst others. At the time, I was at school with his daughter, Joanna – I remember her talking about it when we were off representing the Girls’ Grammar School playing table tennis!  That must have been the early 80’s.

I was commissioned to produce a series of films about people’s stories about their experiences of CancerCare.  I started off filming at Slynedales in Lancaster.  Slynedales is a beautiful old house which stands at the top of a hill in North Lancaster.  It’s a lovely venue to film – there’s an un-clynical, un-medical feeling about the place – just a warmth and a friendliness about which I’m sure I have captured in my films!

As a filmmaker, I often feel privileged when people tell me their stories – regardless of the topic really.  It’s a strange relationship when you think about it:  I rock up to a location, introduce myself to my interviewee and then invite them (even though they have only just met me) to tell me all about themselves… on camera (occasionally two cameras)… wearing and microphone… with a light on them… With that privilege comes a responsibility to deal sensitively with these stories – it’s the unwritten contract between my interviewee and me:  They tell me their story and in return I represent what they have said truthfully and respectfully.

Listening to people’s stories at CancerCare was special:  Firstly, it was very obvious that although none of them really wanted to be on camera or star in a film, they were all intent on giving something back to CancerCare.  If that doesn’t tell you something about the charity, nothing will.

Interviews didn’t take long – my films only needed to be two or three minutes after all – to begin with they all admitted they didn’t know what on earth they were going to say.  However, they found the words, my word they found the words!  They laughed and cried their ways through their stories.  It was humbling to be there listening.  Everyone’s story differed, and each film is differently engaging.  However the message which comes across loud and clear was how vital CancerCare was to them.

Next I headed up to CancerCare’s relatively new centre up in Barrow – where they are currently building their provision.  Different location, same charity, CancerCare’s welcome and kindness was the same wherever I filmed.  I left Barrow imagining how wonderful it would be if in another 35 years or so, CancerCare in Barrow is as much a household name as it is in Lancaster and Morecambe – every town across the land should have a CancerCare.

And you can help!  At the moment, CancerCare needs your help!  You can vote for them to help secure £32,000 of National Lottery ‘People’s Projects’ funding to support the people of Barrow and Furness.

You can vote for their campaign – ‘CancerCare – We’ll Be There’ – and help them set up free creative and activity groups for people affected by cancer.  Votes need to be in by noon on April 30th so don’t wait – just follow the link – https://www.thepeoplesprojects.org.uk/projects/view/cancercare-well-be-there – and vote for one of North Lancashire finest independent charities.


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