Pride of Britain: The Northampton cancer worker putting on pantomimes for new Maggie's centre

  • Victoria Summers has been shortlisted for the Regional Fundraiser of the Year Pride of Britain Award, as Sophie Wiggins reports.

A hospital worker who has spent years fundraising for a new cancer support centre will see her dreams become a reality.

Victoria Summers works at Northampton General Hospital, but spends much of her time outside of work writing and directing pantomimes featuring a cast of people affected by cancer.

The £15,000 Ms Summers has raised will be used to give the hospital its own Maggie's centre from next year.

Her fundraising efforts have seen Ms Summers shortlisted for ITV Anglia's 2023 Pride of Britain Regional Fundraiser of the Year award.

She was just ten when the group put on its first pantomime, which members enjoyed so much they wanted to do it again.

Victoria Summers, who has been shortlisted for ITV Anglia's 2023 Pride of Britain Regional Fundraiser of the Year award. Credit: Victoria Summers

However, they could not afford a script, so Ms Summers wrote one.

"In my naivety I thought I'd give it a go. It can't be that hard," she said.

"I had no idea how hard it would be, but I absolutely loved it. And here we are 19 years later, and we knew we wanted to raise money for a really important charity.

"And that's why we chose the Maggie's Centre. A lot of the cast have been affected by cancer in one way or another.

"Some of them are patients. Others have lost loved ones. And that's why we're so passionate about raising as much money as possible for this amazing cause."

Ms Summers supports cancer patients as a senior therapeutic radiographer at the hospital, which will get its own Maggie's Centre to support patients and families.

Dr Hemant Nemade, medical director at Northampton General, said: "It is now a reality, because we will have a Maggie's Centre as of next year.

"Victoria is a very hardworking member of our staff, who goes above and beyond, and the amount of effort and passion she has shown, and taking everybody along with her is significant."

It was hard times that inspired her to do this. When she was 19 her mum was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and then breast cancer.

"My life just fell apart. And then I thought, I want to do something where I feel like I can make a difference, where I can support patients and use my own experience to kind of help identify how I can best support patients. And one thing that helped me a lot when my mum was it was the pantomimes. And so reward in a particular when a patient finishes their treatment and they ring the bell and it's just the best job in the world. And I couldn't imagine doing anything else."

Ms Summers has followed in the footsteps of her mum Liz Summers, who is the Lead Cancer Nurse at Northampton General.

"She's such a humble girl," Mrs Summers said.

"She's so loving and caring. She starts early in the morning. She'll stay late to finish treating patients and then she'll run straight from work to rehearsal.

"She wouldn't have had a break. She wouldn't have had anything to eat or drink. But she'll come through.

"But nobody will know that because she comes through the door with a big smile on her face. And I am so proud that she is my daughter."

The next pantomime will be Ms Summers' take on Peter Pan, where everything goes wrong, and showtime is next February.

When asked what it would mean to win a Pride of Britain Award, Ms Summers said: "I mean, just being nominated is an absolute honour, but it would mean the world not just to me, but to the cast, because we worked so hard to raise money for Maggie's.

"We'd dedicate it to our two cast members. We lost Eddie and Margaret. They were so brave and inspirational right up until the end.

"And they're a huge reason why we're so passionate about Maggie's and raising as much money as possible."

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