Cancer Relief Centre Gibraltar
Welcome to the Cancer Relief Centre. We have been providing support to people living with cancer in the community for over 30 years. Here at the Centre, we understand that a diagnosis of cancer can be a life-changing event and we are here to help. All our services are free and are aimed at helping you and your family live life to the full. We are also here to support health care professionals in their roles. The Centre’s services can be used by anyone affected by cancer, whether it is for a one-off chat or more continued support. We offer a warm, welcoming environment where you can always find someone to talk to, whatever your needs.
MEET THE TEAM
Our team is made of our hospice outreach service team, our Centre team, as well as trustees, senior management, administration, fundraising, and equipment maintenance. We work together to provide the highest quality care and services to our community.
Grainne McKenna – Charity CEO
Gráinne has been with the charity for seven years. She joined the Charity at the beginning of our redevelopment and restructuring period in 2013, which saw the establishment of charity services at the new Cancer Relief Centre. She was one of the charity’s first clinical employees during this new phase and has naturally transitioned into her current role as CEO. She is credited for the development, delivery and management of the Centre’s current services and operations. Under her guidance and vision the charity has grown into the organisation we are all so proud of today. Together with Cancer Relief’s dedicated staff, volunteers, supporters and donors she works hard to continue to grow services and shape practices to secure our patients and their families the best care possible. Gráinne considers her role a great honour and holds value in the trust placed in her in shaping the charity’s future.
Karen Richards – Centre Nurse
Originally from Hartlepool, Karen began her nursing career serving in the QARNNS Royal Navy nursing service, after qualifying at Portsmouth University. After serving 9 years at various postings she left for motherhood and the first of her four children.
She continued nursing in a variety of positions across the UK before moving for the sunnier climates of the Mediterranean, working at RNH Gibraltar and PRMC until their closure in 2014 when she moved to St Bernard’s Hospital. With over 30 years of nursing experience, Karen is enjoying her role as part of the CRC team.
Raynelah Osborne – Hospice Outreach Service (HOS) nurse
Ray joined the Cancer Relief in May 2020 and has come from looking after complex needs patients in the community setting across London and the Home Counties. Having trained at Guys & St Thomas Lane Fox unit, Ray developed her experience in invasive and non invasive home ventilation. Ray has previously worked in a Gibraltar as a registered nurse and has around 10 years experience in nursing. Ray is very passionate about end of life care and keen to get stuck into her new role.
Nichola McCheyne – Operational & Clinical Services Administrator
Nic moved to Gibraltar in October 2018 searching for sunshine and an escape from the daily London commute. After completing a degree in European Business at Loughborough University Nic began a career in Consumer Research, most recently working as a Research Director, leading a team and managing several client accounts.
Nic started out as a volunteer at Cancer Relief and moved to work full-time within the team in March 2019 to support the operational and administration needs of the charity. Nic loves the varied nature of her work and the sunshine that not only shines on her daily commute but that the lovely team around her bring.
Angela Duthie – Office admininistrator
Angela came to Spain in 2003 with her husband looking for a slower pace of life with that extra bit of sunshine. Three boys later in 2011 they decided to move to Gibraltar. In 2017 she decided to give up her fast-paced work life in gaming to spend more time with her family. She soon realising that she had some spare time on her hands to do something worthwhile which is where Cancer Relief came in. Angela volunteered with us for two years helping at our weekly day support days and absolutely loved the fact that she was able to give something back. When the role of office admin support became available, she couldn’t refuse the opportunity to work with such an awesome team of people like Cancer Relief Gibraltar.
Dr. Bronwen James
Dr. Bronwen James – Hospice Outreach Service (HOS) Medical Lead
Bronwen James joined the Cancer Relief team officially in April 2019 but has been associated with them for several years. Bronwen, originally from Wales, qualified in 2007 following an intense 12 years of studying science, including a PhD in Neuroscience and then graduate medicine in Cambridge. She worked in London for her early training before moving to Gibraltar where she worked as a staff grade in the medical department of St Bernard’s Hospital. She now works part time providing medical care to residents in the elderly residential services and as part of the HOS team, CRC. She gained her post graduate diploma in palliative medicine (distinction) in 2015 from Cardiff University and has recently gained her Specialty Certificate (SCE) in Palliative Medicine. She has a passion for delivering high quality hospice care and is involved in education & service development. She loves living in her adopted country and is committed to developing a centre of excellence for the people of Gibraltar. Outside of medicine she is mum to 2 small boys and enjoys running and being in the countryside.
Deborah Reason – Hospice Outreach Service (HOS) nurse
Debbie trained in Dundee and started her nursing career as a district nurse in Moss side, Manchester. In 2014, she came to Gibraltar for a sailing holiday and never left. Debbie spent 3 years working on John Mackintosh acute medical ward at St Bernard’s Hospital. She returned to the UK for a short spell, working as a hospice at home nurse until she was chosen for the role of Hospice Outreach Nurse with Cancer Relief.
When she’s not working, she prefers spending her time with horses and dogs, yoga and bakes a mean brownie.
Rowena Wallace – Fundraising, Communications and Events Manager
Rowena obtained a BA in Psychology and, before her return to Gibraltar, worked in clinical trials pharmacy in Southampton University Hospital Trust, working closely with the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research and major drug companies to conduct research in over 200 trials, and as clinical trial co-ordinator in the paediatric cancer ward, ensuring the smooth and efficient running of all children’s cancer trials in the hospital. Keen to continue working within the cancer community, Rowena joined Cancer Relief in 2014 as Centre administrator, transitioning into the newly created fundraising department in 2019. Her aim is to ensure the charity receives the support it requires to continue providing much-needed services to our community. She is proud to be part of such a dynamic team and honoured to work for a charity that means so much to so many.
Samir Smirass – Hospice Outreach Service (HOS) Health Care Assistance (HCA)
Samir completed his general nurse diploma in Morocco 2014, and has since worked in a voluntary basis in public health. He moved to Gibraltar in 2015, working as a health care assistant in Dementia elderly residential services and volunteering for Cancer Relief. Happily, he also says his dream came true when he began working for the charity as a health care assistant in December 2018.
Samir is passionate about providing his patient with the best possible care, always with a smile.
Vanessa Cross – Senior Centre Nurse
Vanessa is one of the Centre Nurses who joined the Cancer Relief team in May 2019. She has worked within oncology since qualification at The Royal London Hospital in 1992. She specialized in the field of breast cancer from 2001, first as a Research Nurse and then as a Clinical Nurse Specialist. She completed her Master’s Degree during this time focusing on the psycho-social aspects of breast cancer and uses her knowledge and experience to provide emotional support, advice and information to all Cancer Relief patients and their families, in addition to managing day to day life at the Centre.
Emma Laws – Healthcare Assistant
Emma has many years’ experience in different fields, from starting her career in the Army then moving onto working in Theatres, Specialist Nutrition Team, Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Maternity. Emma prides herself in patient care and always wants to deliver the best services to patients and families. Emma is originally from Darlington, and moved around the south coast of England many times, due to growing up in a naval family, before settling in Lincolnshire. She moved to Gibraltar in July 2020, in the middle of the lockdown in the UK! In her spare time she likes to keep active by jogging, cycling and attending body combat and metafit classes.
Kate Howarth – Hospice Outreach Service (HOS)
Kate joined the charity in 2010 originally in a volunteer capacity. She later joined the nursing complement as Centre Nurse for the Day Support Services and has now joined the expanding the Hospice Outreach Nursing Team.
Having completed her nurse training in Leeds, U.K. in 2002, Kate always wished her nursing career to incorporate caring for people affected by cancer. This was inspired by the care her father received that facilitated his wish to die peacefully
at home and the supportive care offered by the home nursing teams to not just her father but her mother and herself.
Kate has a wealth of nursing background citing experience in various cancer inpatient and outpatient facilities, plus hospice inpatient care skills from her time in St. Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds, U.K.
She is a trained Chemotherapy and Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy Nurse having practised at The Royal Brisbane Hospital in Australia; The Christie Hospital, Manchester U.K and Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, Liverpool U.K. She was part of the Chemotherapy Outpatient Unit in Gibraltar in more recent years treating our community locally. Kate is also trained in the Complementary Therapy ‘HEARTS’ (Hands-on, Empathy, Aromas, Relaxation, Textures, Sound).
Julie Gurney – Hospice Outreach Service (HOS) Health Care Assistance (HCA).
Julie moved to Spain in 2014 from Buckinghamshire. She has a history of working within Social Services, working with the Complex Care team across a variety of challenging situations. Julie had retired but found the position within Cancer Relief too good an opportunity to pass up, so was delighted to join the Cancer Relief team in January 2020. Julie enjoys the variety of her role and getting to know the community of Gibraltar.
Alejandro Ocaña Ruiz
Alejandro Ocaña Ruiz – Hospice Outreach Service (HOS) nurse
Alejandro is one of the Hospice Nurses at Cancer Relief. He completed his Nursing Degree at the University of Huelva (Spain) in 2015, specialising in Critical Care, also undertaking training in cancer care and palliative care management. He began work in Gibraltar in 2015, at the Learning Disability Service. Alejandro joined the Cancer Relief team in June 2019 and became part of the Hospice Outreach Service Team, providing advice, support and respite to cancer patients and families. End of life care is one of his passions, focusing on the holistic approach to try to provide the best quality of care for anyone affected by cancer in Gibraltar.
Annabelle Camino – Hospice Outreach Service (HOS) Health Care Assistance (HCA)
Annabelle has many years of care experience in many fields, from cardiothoracic, adults with learning disabilities and dementia. She joined Cancer Relief in June 2019, the charity being something very close to her heart. She feels she has found her perfect place, supporting patients and their families in the most difficult of times.
Stephanie Satterley – Hospice Outreach Service Nurse (HOS)
Stephanie graduated from Plymouth University in 2008 with a First Class hons Degree in Adult Nursing. With a passion and dedication to Oncology Nursing, Stephanie has worked in a variety of different clinical settings including acute medicine, intensive care, chemotherapy and stem-cell transplants. She thoroughly enjoyed her time at the Royal Marsden Hospital where she undertook a managerial role. Prior to leaving the UK she was working as a Specialist Chemotherapy Nursing for a Homecare company delivering specialised treatments in the comfort of patient’s own homes. Moving to Gibraltar in November 2020 with her husband and 5 year old son, Stephanie found the Cancer Relief Centre website and instantly knew this was where she was supposed to be. She joined as a HOS Nurse in June 2021 and is looking forward to serving the community of Gibraltar.
Alberto Sanchez – Hospice Outreach Service Healthcare Assistant
Originally from Los Barrios (Spain), Alberto moved to UK in 2015 looking for a new challenge. He developed his training as a Healthcare Assistant in the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust in Reading, working in an acute surgical ward and after a year, becoming a Senior Healthcare Assistant. During his career in UK, he has also worked in a care agency in different specialities (ICU, Orthopaedics, Urology, respiratory, elderly care). Alberto moved back to Spain in January 2021. He joined an elderly care agency to get to know Gibraltar, before joining the Cancer Relief team in June. He feels he has found a new challenge to keep developing his skills and knowledge and most enjoys interacting with the community and helping them in the best way he can. In his spare time, Alberto enjoys lots of different sports and training.
Maria Lopez – Hospice Outreach Service nurse
María graduated and completed her Nursing Degree in Córdoba University (Spain) in 2013 and, following advice from a very good friend, decided to move to the UK and start working at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. Here she worked in numerous clinical settings (all around the oncological patient) from a Urological surgical ward to Intensive Care Unit and finally as an Uro-oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist. Due to the pandemic, along with her husband and 1-year-old baby, she decided to move closer to her family and start a career in Gibraltar in January 2021. Finding an advert to work at the Cancer Relief for the Gibraltarian community was a great surprise and she feels it is like a reward after being away for such a long time. In her free time, Maria loves to spend time with her family, especially at the seaside.
The Cancer Relief Centre is part of the Gibraltar Society for Cancer Relief (GSCR),
The Gibraltar Society for Cancer Relief was first registered as a charity with the Charity Commission under the Friendly Societies Act (registered charity number 38) on 23rd May 1983. In 2017 the Cancer Relief registered a company limited by guarantee with the Registrar of Companies in Gibraltar (registered company number 106292). However, we retain our Registered Charity number 38. The charity is administered by seven trustees who each bring their own experience and expertise to the running of the society. The trustee board meet once a month to discuss on-going operational needs, concerns and future plans. There is an annual general meeting, usually held at the beginning of summer. Dates are advertised in local media so society members can attend.
We currently have 180 members and subscription is open to all.
Click here to download a subscription form.
Marisa Desoiza, Cancer Relief Chairperson
Marisa trained as a nurse in the 70’s and became involved with the charity in the early 80’s as a volunteer driver when she took a career break to raise her family. In 1993, Marisa was employed as the Lady Williams Centre Manager for 11 years. During this time, she recognised the incredibly positive impact of palliative care on the quality of life of people with advanced cancer and became increasingly interested in developing this service locally. As a result of this, the then “Hospice at Home nursing service” and a cancer support group were started. Marisa then went on to study for a Master’s degree in Health Care Management which she completed in 2004. When she left the Lady Williams Centre to take up employment elsewhere, she remained on the charity’s committee on a voluntary basis. When Mrs Lillian Pitaluga, who was the Chairperson retired, Marisa was invited to take the Chair, a position she holds to date. Marisa was instrumental in the move in 2013 from the Centre in Devil’s Tower Road to Cancer Relief’s present premises in South Barrack Road. Together with her fellow Trustees and the Centre’s Team, Marisa has overseen enormous developments in the cancer support services offered by the charity. She considers it an honour to serve as part of the Team that has supported so many people who have been affected by cancer over the years.
Dr. Nathan Chichon
Dr. Nathan Chichon, Trustee
Nathan was born in 1973 in Gibraltar where he has lived most of his life. He spent 14 years in Aberdeen, Scotland, where he trained and worked as a medical practitioner. It was there he met his wife Emma, both returning to Gibraltar in 2004 where their daughter Bethany was born shortly after. He now has the privilege to serve the people of Gibraltar as a GP working for the GHA and as one of the GP leads at the Primary Care Centre. He also worked as the GFA‘s Chief Medical Officer during the first years of joining UEFA (2013-17). Nathan’s hobbies include drawing & painting, fishing and reading sci-fi graphic novels, but his passion is football and in particular the English Premier League. Nathan had the privileged of being appointed a CRC Trustee in 2018 and, God willing, can continue to work with this inspirational group of people for years to come.
Christopher Pitaluga, Trustee
Chris graduated from Oxford in 1984 with a degree in English Literature but has spent his career as a professional trustee, specialising in private wealth and corporate structuring. After some years in banking, during which he qualified as a Chartered Banker and TEP, he joined PricewaterhouseCoopers / Abacus in 1995 and became a Partner in 2001. He has been the CEO of Abacus since 2010 but still makes time for his five children (and wife), a passion for running (slowly) and the habitual disappointment of being a supporter of Arsenal football club. Chris is the trustee of a number of charitable trusts and was appointed a trustee of Cancer Relief in 2013. In his role as a trustee he supports the activities of the charity in the community and, in common with other trustees, upholds the vision of the charity and ensures its financial stability and integrity.
Geoff Harding, Treasurer & Trustee
Born in London and having qualified in Engineering and Accountancy, Geoff worked in UK, Africa and the Middle East before relocating to Gibraltar in 1981. He quickly resolved to make Gibraltar his permanent home and is now semi-retired but still active as a Management Accountant. He retains involvement in a number of businesses here and acts as a Non Executive Director of several Gibraltar companies, as well as pursuing his interests in exotic holidays and football. Geoff joined the Charity as a volunteer in 2006 because he wanted to give back some of his time and expertise to the people of Gibraltar. He helped with the reorganisation of the charity structure and was appointed Trustee in 2011. He is an integral part of the management team and took over the role of Treasurer in 2019, bringing his many years of experience in management and finance to the Board.
Martin Lennane, Trustee
Martin is a retired Bank Manager and a Justice of the Peace. He was appointed Treasurer of Cancer Relief in 1995 a position he held until 2019 when he stepped down. Martin remains a trustee of the Society and serves on the charity’s operational committee. He is an active member of the Rotary Club of Gibraltar and is a trustee of various pension funds. Martin has a keen interest in Gibraltar history and is a keen collector of old Gibraltar postcards and antique books. He also spends much of his time with his grandchildren.
Fabian Vinet, Trustee
Fabian is a Barrister by profession, having been Called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1999 and thereafter to the Bar of Gibraltar. He is a former Government Minister and former Chairman of Gibtelecom, AquaGib and the Gibraltar Electricity Authority, as well as having served on the Government’s Land Management Committee and Development Appeals Tribunal. More recently, he was appointed a member of the Commission on Democratic and Parliamentary Reform, making formal recommendations on all aspects of our parliamentary and electoral systems, and headed the commercial operations for the Gibraltar 2019 NatWest International Island Games. Fabian has a keen interest in (or arguably unhealthy obsession with) music, writing, travelling and politics and is incredibly proud to be associated with Cancer Relief Gibraltar.
Clare Bensadon, Trustee
After graduating with a first class in Economics and Mathematics, Clare was selected to join one of the top graduate programmes in the UK, Teach First. Teach First is a charity which aims to address educational disadvantage and develop participants into leaders in all fields via a robust and intense programme. After returning to Gibraltar, Clare worked in banking whist lecturing Economics and Statistics at the University of Gibraltar. Clare continues lecturing and is now running a small business she started. Clare is passionate about her role as trustee because she knows cancer affects us all and so Cancer Relief plays a vital and important role in the community. As trustee, she believes she can contribute in a positive way to the overall mission and purpose of the charity.
The Centre simply couldn’t function without our wonderful team of volunteers. Covering a wide range of roles, each brings something unique to the charity and we enjoy working with them immensely. They are a vital support, ensuring we can provide our services successfully to as many people as possible. Their impact on the charity should never be underestimated and, while we don’t have the space to name them all individually, we consider every single one of them part of the Cancer Relief family and are so grateful for their time and hard work.
Volunteering is a great way to support Cancer Relief and enjoy the benefits it can offer. We are always looking for new volunteers across the various roles available at the Centre. If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a Cancer Relief volunteer, visit our ‘Volunteering your time‘ page.