A charity that is working to improve the detection and treatment of cancer, heart disease and dementia has taken a big step towards its fundraising target with the help of leading property development company Wykeland Group.
Prof Nick Stafford, chairman of the Daisy Appeal, hopes other businesses will be inspired by the generosity of Wykeland as the charity approaches the final stages of fitting out a UK-first Molecular Imaging Research Centre (MIRC) at Castle Hill Hospital in East Yorkshire.
Prof Stafford said: “Thanks to Wykeland and the Brignall family trust we are now much closer to our target of £8.5m and to launching the new centre with its benefits now and in the future for the health of people across East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire.
“We have some big milestones coming up having taken delivery of the cyclotron, and we now await the handover of the building itself, but we are not quite there yet and we will continue fundraising to meet the running costs of the new centre.
“This donation is sizeable and significant and we hope it will bring even more value by helping to raise the profile of the Daisy Appeal and encouraging other businesses to support a project which will make a big difference to people in our region and to research programmes nationwide.”
Dominic Gibbons, managing director of Hull-based Wykeland, and the company’s finance director, Ian Franks, were given a VIP preview of the new centre and some of the equipment.
Mr Gibbons said: “These very significant donations, from company funds and the family trust, reflect our long-standing and continuing support for the Daisy Appeal.
“Our founder, Jack Brignall, was one of the driving forces behind the Daisy Appeal in its early years and was passionate about supporting its work to combat cancer, heart disease and dementia.
“We’re delighted that our financial support will take the charity close to the completion of the MIR Centre. The centre will complement the existing life-saving and life-changing facilities funded by the Daisy Appeal in offering quicker diagnosis, better treatment and improved quality of life for thousands of people every year.”
The Daisy Appeal was founded in 2000 and has since raised more than £20m to fund cutting-edge research and state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.
The Daisy Appeal Medical Research Centre opened on the Castle Hill Hospital site in 2008 and was followed, in 2014, by the opening of the Jack Brignall PET-CT Scanning Centre.
Housing the first in a new type of Siemens scanner in the country, the pioneering centre was named in memory of Dr Brignall, who died in 2010, a year after he was awarded an MBE for services to the community and an honorary doctorate from the University of Hull for his work to improve the economic and social wellbeing of the region.
The MIR Centre has been built next to to the Jack Brignall Centre and the latest donations will help to fit-out and equip the new facility. Delivery of the cyclotron was completed in October and the building is due to be handed over to the charity by the spring.
It is expected to become operational during the summer and will initially be able to produce Fluorine 18 radiotracers, which are currently used in most scans but which the Daisy Appeal previously had to source from out of the region. During the next two or three years the centre will also be able to produce Carbon 11 radiotracers, which have great potential for neurological and cardiological use and will open up other opportunities.
With all the radiotracers having a short life span it is vital for them to be used as quickly as possible. In the new building the isotopes will be piped directly from the cyclotron to hot cells in the room next door, where the product will be processed, checked and then delivered through a hatch in the wall to the Jack Brignall PET-CT Centre for injection into patients.
Prof Stafford said the Jack Brignall Centre was itself a revolutionary addition to health services when it opened in 2014 and the MIR Centre raises the bar again.
He said: “The Jack Brignall Centre put us in the top division of PET-CT providers in the UK. With the new MIRC we are not only at the top in terms of the service side but also with regard to research and development, which is just as important because it will attract the best research-based scientists in the field to come from other institutions to work at a centre which is now established and recognised internationally.
“There will also be considerable economic benefits including raising the region’s profile with a project which is unique in the UK, the generation of high-quality jobs and the creation of opportunities in the local supply chain.
“It would be great to see more businesses coming forward to help us achieve our goal in creating a nationally significant research and diagnostic facility here in the Hull and East Yorkshire region.”