Our Story

The sad reality is that every week in Northern Ireland another three children and young people aged 0-24 years old will be diagnosed with cancer.

As Northern Ireland’s leading children’s cancer charity, Cancer Fund for Children understands the devastating impact a cancer diagnosis and its treatment has on the whole family, and that beyond the essential medical care, there is a family life that needs to be rebuilt. 

From the point of diagnosis our team of Cancer Support Specialists are here to help, guide and support families at home, in their community, and at our therapeutic short break and residential centre in Newcastle, Co. Down. Our support is focused not just on the young person, but on the whole family. Our aim is to empower, connect and strengthen them, so they feel equipped to deal with whatever the future may hold.

Cancer Fund for Children is also here to help bereaved families cope with the emotional pain of losing a child to cancer. We also support children and young people whose parent has been diagnosed with cancer through our Young Shoulders Programme. 

Cancer Fund for Children CEO Phil Alexander, Zara Barnett and her mum Nola Harrison help celebrate the Daisy Lodge fifth anniversary and the news that the charity has provided 2,140 therapeutic short breaks to children and families impacted by cancer.

Our Vision

Our vision is that no child should face cancer alone.

Our History

Cancer Fund for Children was founded in 1973 by Margaret McAlpine MBE, a teacher who had been recruited to provide continuity to children’s education whilst they were receiving treatment on the wards at Belvoir Park Hospital in Belfast, following a diagnosis of cancer.

Over the next ten years, Margaret recruited a range of volunteers, including consultant oncologist Dr George Edelstein, to form a Charity Board to help deliver a range of practical and financial support to families.

This developed into residential support with the purchase of Shimna Valley House in Co Down in 1996.  Aided by funds from the National Lottery, and opened by local celebrity Patrick Kielty, Cancer Fund for Children’s Shimna Valley House offered families nursing a sick child a place of tranquillity, far removed from the stress of the hospital wards – and was the fore-runner of the unique Daisy Lodge, which was opened in 2014 and stands on the same site today.



Over the last 20 years, the Board has further professionalised the organisation, recruiting highly skilled and trained staff to deliver both specialist services to families and to fundraise, with the result that the charity has grown to become the most significant organisation in Northern Ireland supporting children and young people living with cancer – and their families.

And yet, despite such significant growth, the ethos of Cancer Fund for Children has remained constant – to develop and deliver services to meet the practical, and emotional needs of young people living with cancer in their family home, on the wards and within the community – as well as offering free therapeutic short breaks at Daisy Lodge.



Our Brand

Cancer Fund for Children’s brand conveys our personality and brand values as a charity that is caring, empathetic, professional and encouraging. It is very important that we remain consistent in how we use our brand.

If you would like to speak to someone about our brand guidelines or how to use our images, logo and key messages please contact the Marketing and Communications team. If you’re contacting us about using our logo, please tell us as much as possible about how and where you intend to use it. This will help us to provide you with the correct file type.

Cancer Fund for Children

Our Impact Report

Every week in Northern Ireland another three young people age 0-24 will be diagnosed with cancer, and many more will be struggling to cope with their parent’s cancer.

We understand that beyond the essential medical care there is a family life that needs to be rebuilt.  We also know that young people impacted by cancer are six times more likely to develop mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.  That is why we exist, to help children and young people not just survive but thrive beyond cancer by connecting, empowering, and strengthening them.

Every year we support over 500 families and 1,500 children and young people diagnosed with cancer or living with a parent with cancer. Our Impact Reports highlights the difference we are making to young people living with cancer and their families and going forward how we can improve and be bolder.

You can view 2021’s Impact Report here

You can view 2020’s Impact Report here

You can view 2019’s Impact Report here

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