FOR nearly 20 years it has been a lifeline to those suffering from cancer.

Over the years thousands of people from across Hampshire have walked through the doors of Romsey’s Jane Scarth House getting vital emotional and physical support.

Now the death-knell has sounded despite tens of thousands of pounds being raised for the centre which is part of Wessex Cancer Trust.

The support centre, based in The Hundred, which offers support and counselling for those suffering from cancer and their carers, will close on October 29.

Three members of staff will be made redundant while others will be transferred to the charity’s Southampton or Winchester centres.

Daily Echo:

Actor George Baker and Counsellor Kim Fielder open the centre in 1995

Wessex Cancer Trust said it hopes to double the number of support centres across the south while it embarks on “a period of growth”.

Chief executive Sally Hall said it had been a difficult decision.

“Over the next three months we will be working hard to ensure continuity of support for all of our clients. We will be introducing counsellors and therapists from the Winchester and Southampton centres to Romsey clients.

“We value the support and excellent service that Jane Scarth House has provided over the past 12 years to the people of Romsey under Wessex Cancer Trust’s umbrella, and also truly appreciate the reciprocated support from the town.”

The Southampton-based charity intends to expand into towns and cities such as Salisbury, Bournemouth and Portsmouth.

The Romsey charity store, also in The Hundred, will be closing in January next year with a new larger store opening in Portsmouth later this year.

All staff will have the opportunity to apply for jobs there and in the other three shops across the region.

Mrs Hall added: “This is an exciting time for the future of the charity and we hope that support for the work that is done in each centre will continue to grow.”

Former trustee and long-time supporter of the centre, Tina Wellman-Hawke, said it was “very sad, another bad decision”.

Tina, from Bursledon said: “I wonder if this would have happened if they stayed independent.

“I am rather disappointed that this decision has been made and all those people who worked so hard to support and maintain such a warm, friendly support base for cancer sufferers and their families.

“Sadly those who need this befriending centre will have to travel and I am sure no-where will have the same feel that Jane Scarth House does.”

She added: “That's the end of my fundraising for Jane Scarth House, I was about to hand over a nice cheque but now I know this will be lost in translation and eaten up in admin, I shall make sure it goes to where the money will really make a difference.”