A Scarva charity volunteer has been recognised for her outstanding dedication to cancer campaigning in Northern Ireland and across the UK.
Victoria Poole was named Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Campaigns Ambassador of the Year at the charity’s Flame of Hope Awards and was presented with the national award at a special ceremony in Belfast on April 5.
The CRUK Flame of Hope Awards honour and celebrate the outstanding achievements of the charity’s most inspiring volunteers from all walks of life who give their time to further the charity’s vision of bringing forward the day when all cancers are cured.
Victoria was selected from over 800 Flame of Hope nominations, from across the UK, to receive a Flame of Hope Award and 2023 marks 20 years of the recognition programme.
After losing her grandmother, to pancreatic cancer in 2014, and her grandfather, to prostate cancer in 2017, Victoria was inspired to become involved in volunteering as a Campaigns Ambassador with Cancer Research UK.
Having seen first-hand, the devastating impact cancer has on patients and their families, this inspired Victoria to use her voice to campaign to help keep cancer high on the political agenda and accelerate progress in improving cancer outcomes and create hope for other patients and their families.
In the last year, another member of Victoria’s family received a devastating bladder and prostate cancer diagnosis which saw her family again embark on a cancer journey which has further motivated her campaigning efforts.
In her CRUK Campaigns Ambassador role, Victoria engages with politicians in Westminster and Stormont and brings an important local and personal aspect to CRUK’s work in Northern Ireland.
She supported CRUK in their call for a comprehensive Cancer Strategy for Northern Ireland which was later published on 22 March 2022 by the then Health Minister, Robin Swann.
Victoria was also involved in the development of the Northern Ireland Cancer Strategy as a lived experience representative and worked in partnership with people living with cancer, cancer charities, healthcare professionals and policy-makers in its development.
One year on since the Cancer Strategy’s publication, in the absence of a devolved government in Northern Ireland, there has been no commitment to guarantee the sustained and recurrent funding necessary to deliver the strategy’s recommendations.
Cancer, which is Northern Ireland’s biggest killer, sees more than 25 people diagnosed with cancer each day – that is more than 9,250 per year* with rates projected to rise to over 14,000 by 2034.
Victoria said she was “incredibly honoured” at the recognition by the charity.
“I am proud to volunteer as a CRUK Campaigns Ambassador to help drive cancer progress and bring hope to cancer patients and their families,” said Victoria.
“Campaigning helps saves lives. Key decisions on preventing, diagnosing and accessing cancer treatments lie in the hands of the Governments across the four UK nations.
“From early diagnosis, to access to treatments and cancer prevention; policy and legislation from the Governments across all four UK nations has a huge impact on cancer.
“As a Campaigns Ambassador, you have an opportunity to send a strong and clear message to the Government to help make a real difference and change the cancer story.”
Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive, Michelle Mitchell, said: “Thanks to the dedication of almost 30,000 volunteers supporting us right across the charity – from fundraising and increasing awareness of cancer to helping run shops and events – Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of progress that has seen cancer survival in the UK double over the past 40 years.
“The Flame of Hope Awards give us the opportunity to celebrate and say thank you to those who have made outstanding contributions, and we’re proud to have presented almost 2,000 awards since the first ceremony back in 2003.”
Cancer Research UK’s Public Affairs Manager for Northern Ireland, Margaret Carr, said: “These awards are our way of honouring incredible people like Victoria who give their time freely helping to promote greater awareness of the disease and yet ask for nothing in return.
“Time volunteered is not ordinary time. It’s time infused with passion, drive and determination. It’s time honouring lost family members and friends – or extra time gained thanks to advances in research.
“I thank Victoria for her dedication to the charity’s work and congratulate her on this well-deserved award.”