A NEW support centre has opened in Winchester for cancer sufferers.

Mayor of Winchester Frank Pearson and BBC South Today presenter Sally Taylor officially opened the Wessex Cancer Trust Cancer Support Centre in Winchester yesterday (Feb 20).

It offers free services like professional counselling, befriending and massage and reflexology therapy to all cancer patients, their families and carers.

Sally Hall, chief executive of the trust, said: “We recognised there was a need for this in Winchester for more support for cancer patients and their families.

“This service is also being funded from the revenue from our charity shop in Weeke so we are very much focused on local support and we are working very closely with local GPs and Royal Hampshire County Hospital to make sure they are aware we are here.”

Ms Hall said the centre cost around £40,000 per year to run but they were dependent on donations and received no outside funding.

Ms Taylor, who battled breast cancer in 1999, added: “I'm really proud to be here today. Had I known about this when I had cancer and had something like this been available it would have transformed my life.”

The centre, which has been running since December, is currently being managed by Jill Dreyer and a team of 15 volunteers but she is looking to hand over the reins.

She said: “We have been really well received so far and a lot of people have been taking up the services. It's the first of its king in Winchester and we have had a very positive reception from service users and our contacts at the hospital, and we want to keep that going.”

The centre will run three days a week from Tuesday to Thursday.

Anyone who would to make a donation or volunteer should contact Claire Tuckett on 023 8067 2200 or e-mail volunteer@wessexcancer.org.