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Tribute to Cancer Fund for Children’s Founder Margaret McAlpine MBE

Our Chief Executive Phil Alexander has paid tribute to Cancer Fund for Children’s founder, Margaret McAlpine MBE who died on 18th January 2022.

Margaret was committed to ensuring that children, young people and their families receive the emotional support they need throughout their cancer diagnosis.  There is no doubt that Cancer Fund for Children would not be the charity it is today without her vision, commitment and drive. Margaret certainly achieved what she set out to do and more. Her legacy is a timely reminder to us all that we must do everything we can to make sure more children are able to access the right support at the right time.

Cancer Fund for Children's CEO Phil Alexander

Cancer Fund for Children Founder Margaret McAlpine MBE

Margaret a former teacher of over 20 years founded Cancer Fund for Children in 1973. She had been recruited to provide continuity to the education of children diagnosed with cancer whilst they were receiving treatment at Belvoir Park Hospital in Belfast.

Under the guidance of Consultant Oncologist Dr George Edelstein, she and Maureen Burns a radiographer in Belvoir Park set up the charity whilst recruiting volunteers to raise awareness The organisation was created to deliver practical, financial and emotional support to children with cancer and their families.

In 1996 Shimna Valley Holiday House was opened to provide holiday facilities for children with cancer and their families. In 2006 a residential log cabin, Narnia was opened to support teenagers fighting cancer.

In 2014 Shimna Valley was developed into Daisy Lodge, a purpose built therapeutic centre for children impacted by cancer which since opening has provided nurturing short breaks to over 3,000 families.

In 2003 Margaret was awarded an MBE in recognition of her service to Cancer Fund for Children and children and young people living with cancer.

Today Cancer Fund for Children provides support to over 500 families and 1,500 children and young people.

Nicola Rothwell’s teenage son Austin was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2018. He had to spend three months in intensive care and learn to walk again.  Nicola said,

“I am so thankful for everything that Cancer Fund for Children has done for us as a family. In all honesty the charity saved our lives.  Thank you, Margaret, for your vision.”

Nicola Rothwell