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Journalist’s cash thank you to cancer unit

A former award winning Yorkshire journalist who fought cancer organised a gig to raise money for the hospital where she was treated.

Rachel O’Connor, 61, was sports editor and entertainment editor for Newsquest weekly titles the Ilkley Gazette and Wharefedale & Aireborough Observer until she was diagnosed with skin cancer last year.

She organised the gig to raise funds for the Yorkshire Cancer Centre at St James Hospital in Leeds, raising £1,050 as a thank-you to staff who helped her battle the illness.

Said Rachel: “I was off work because I had a trapped nerve in my shoulder.

“While off I found I had skin cancer on my face. I had a growth removed and after that I found another in my neck.

“I had an operation in January to remove lymph glands, followed by 33 sessions of chemotherapy.”

She has now received the all- clear but will have regular check-ups for the next five years.

“Because the treatment there was so good I just felt we should do something back in return,” said Rachel, who was the first woman reporter to be appointed by publisher Wharfedale Newspapers when she joined as a school-leaver in July 1966.

She became sports editor in 1975 and once won the Sports Writer of the Year category in the Yorkshire Press Awards. She served under just three editors in her 44 years with the company – Ronnie Biss, Mel Vasey and Sheena Stavert.

The gig saw four acts perform at a club in Yeadon on 18 August.

She said she plans to hold further events to raise more funds which are used to buy various items for the centre such as a grand piano so that musicians can perform for patients.