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Paper celebrates victory in cancer miles battle

A weekly paper is celebrating victory in a three-year campaign to secure a new radiotherapy unit to help treat cancer patients on its patch.

The Hereford Times launched its Cut the Cancer Misery Miles campaign after harrowing stories from readers about the distress caused through lengthy journeys for treatment.

Some said they’d rather stop life-saving treatment than face what could be up to an 80-mile round trip.

More than 400 readers’ letters and emails were sent to then Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Department of Health.

Hereford Times health reporter, Liz Watkins, co-ordinated the campaign through two local people, Allan and Angela Lloyd and, between them, they ensured a stream of stories appeared in the paper under a distinctive logo.

As the decision-makers gathered for the final meeting at the end of July, news editor Ian Morris handed out copies of the paper with its front page appeal: “We’ve fought so long – don’t let Herefordshire down at the end.”

And they didn’t – the county will have a multi-million pound radiotherapy unit at Hereford Hospital by 2012.

Among reactions to the campaign was this from Herefordshire Council: “The Hereford Times has demonstrated again its intuitive grasp of the issues most important to Herefordshire people.”

And this from a cancer patient: “Without these powerful voices and the very public campaign the units would have gone to Cheltenham as the cheapest option.”

Editor Liz Griffin said: “This has been a campaign very close to our readers and to all the staff here, so we’re delighted by this successful outcome that will ensure people don’t suffer unduly as they seek treatment.”