ALL SMILES: Our House chairman Dr Chris Ingalls, fundraising coordinator Rebekka Battista, Page MP Janelle Saffin, Lismore MP Thomas George and NSW Cancer Council COO Sally Chatterjee at the official opening of Our House. Photo Jennie Dell / Northern Rivers Echo
ALL SMILES: Our House chairman Dr Chris Ingalls, fundraising coordinator Rebekka Battista, Page MP Janelle Saffin, Lismore MP Thomas George and NSW Cancer Council COO Sally Chatterjee at the official opening of Our House. Photo Jennie Dell / Northern Rivers Echo Jennie Dell

Our House a “spring of hope” for cancer patients

AFTER eight years of tireless fundraising efforts, a 'spring of hope' for a cancer patient accommodation centre in Lismore has been transformed into reality.

Our House was opened yesterday in front of more than 200 community representatives from across the Northern Rivers.

The brand new purpose-built facility will provide accommodation for up to 20 patients and their families coming to Lismore for cancer treatment, as well as children being treated at Lismore Base Hospital's Children's Ward and Special Care Nursery.

In an exceptional local fundraising effort, at least $1 million of the total $5.5 million cost of the facility came from the local community.

A boost of $3.5 million from the Federal Government in 2009 combined with $500,000 in state funding and a further $500,000 from the NSW Cancer Council underwrote the remainder.

Our House chair Chris Ingall, in opening the centre, paid tribute to the massive support of the community since the project was little more than a dream in 2004.

"We have been absolutely astounded at the number of people who have come forward," Dr Ingall said.

It was the tenacity of Northern Rivers people which brought this to fruition… when something needs to happen, they get in there shoulder to shoulder.

Particular thanks went to the combined Ballina Shire Combined Service Clubs, Goonellabah Senior Citizens, and the Northern Co-operative Meat Company, as well as builders Woollam Constructions.

Federal MP for Page Janelle Saffin said the Our House project had been a remarkable initiative and congratulated Dr Ingall and fundraising coordinator Rebekka Battista.

"Historically there's been a lack of cancer services available in country areas, which has contributed to a gap in services, and we all know that where we live should not be a predictor of the outcome," Ms Saffin said.

"We should have access to the right care at the right time, and closer to loved ones."

Lismore MP Thomas George described it as the 'icing on the cake' of Lismore's now 'best in country and regional NSW' cancer treatment precinct.

"Some 10 years ago this was a dream of Chris Ingall's... he provided the direction, the enthusiasm... and wanted us as a community to bring it to fruition," Mr George said.

A trust is now being created in order for those patients experiencing financial hardship to have access to the facility.



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