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 can 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.
We are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays). If you would like to use the Centre services or would like more information about us and what we do, our details are as follows:
Cancer Relief Centre
5, South Barrack Road
Telephone: (00350) 20042392
MEET THE TEAM
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.
Daniela Ayre – Hospice Outreach Service (HOS) CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist)
Daniela achieved her basic studies in healthcare in 2002 and returned to education in 2010 to achieve a 1st class distinction degree in Nursing. She has worked in healthcare and nursing for over 12 years, starting off her career in health promotion and then transitioning into nursing. Daniela has worked in many different fields, but has focused on palliative and end of life care. Her passion for caring for people at home with chronic and terminal illnesses, led her to work in homecare, supporting families and patients in the last stages of life. Daniela joined the Cancer Relief Team on the 1st October 2014, as the Hospice at Home Nurse, providing respite and end of life care to cancer patients who wish to be cared for in their home, moving into the role of day services manager in 2016.
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 the newest member of the CRC team.
Anna Bentley – Centre Clinical Support Worker
Anna arrived in Gibraltar from the UK 9 years ago and undertook a nursing assistant position with the care agency. She then progressed to a role in pharmacy, training and working as a dispenser and healthcare advisor.
In 2019 Anna was delighted to be offered the role of clinical support worker. Her role involves engaging with patients and carers on a daily basis, booking them in for one of our many services and supporting them through their journeys. Anna has also just completed her chair- based exercise training and holds a class every Wednesday at our day support service.
Ray is our newest recruit to Cancer Relief, joining 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.
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.
Georgia Casson – Hospice Outreach Service (HOS) Health Care Assistance (HCA)
Georgia is one of our Health care assistants. She studied health and social care double award at school, continued studying health and social care at college and got her Level 2 first Diploma. She worked for seven years in England as a disability support worker and got her EDI Level 2. Georgia moved to Gibraltar in 2017 and joined Cancer Relief team in June 2018. She is currently on maternity leave until summer 2020.
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.
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 an opportunity to pass up, so was delighted to join the Cancer Relief team in January 2020, covering for Georgia while she is on maternity leave. Julie is currently enjoying settling into her new role.
John Milanta – Equipment maintenance and storekeeper
In 1974, John commenced working at the Ministry of Defence as an Electrical Technician Apprentice. Moving to London in 1984, he worked with British Rail Engineering, Department of the Environment and the Science Museum as an Engineer. John returned to Gibraltar in 1993 and worked in the MOD power station and later at the Gibraltar Health Authority. He holds an HNC in Electrical Engineering and Information Technology Applications. John joined Cancer Relief early in 2020 as the charity’s equipment maintenance and storekeeper and finds it a pleasure working amongst such dedicated, caring, hard working and professional staff at the Centre.
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.
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 five 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