History of the Gibraltar Society for Cancer Relief

The idea for a society focused on cancer relief was born in 1982. Knowing Lady Williams, wife of the then Governor Admiral Sir David Williams was passionate about cancer care, Padre Geoffrey Hall set up a meeting between Lady Williams, Maureen Stansfield (trained in palliative care), Lance Bromley (St Bernard’s Hospital Medical Director) and Admiral Sir David Williams.

Together, they came up with the idea of a palliative care service and the possibility of opening a hospice. There were stumbling blocks along the way, as with every new endeavour, with the first meeting concluding that the proposed scheme was not viable. Undaunted, Lady Williams arranged another meeting, this time with Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the hospice movement in the UK. A representative, Dr Fisher, came to Gibraltar to advise on how to proceed, which resulted in the setting up of the first Cancer Relief committee, headed by Lady Williams as President and supported by various religious, business and community members, including Lillian Pitaluga, Bishop Caruana, Dr Fitzpatrick, Momy Levy and Maribel Chiappe.

The priorities of this committee were (1) community care (2) lending of equipment, (3) education and the possible addition of a day care centre. It was also decided to send a State Registered Nurse for training. Mary Dolding was approached to train as the first paid hospice nurse, a role she excelled at for many years.

Gibraltar Society for Cancer Relief (GSCR) was registered under the Friendly Societies ordinance as charity number 38 in 1983.

The original day care centre was set up in 1984 thanks to the TGWU offering the society a room in Transport House. From there the Centre graduated to the Lady Williams Cancer Support Centre, Devil’s Tower Road, whose purpose was to provide cancer care and relief. It ran a successful and supportive day centre for 28 years until it was decided that the society had outgrown its premises.

In 2011, the Society was gifted a beautiful colonial building by the government on the south side of Gibraltar. The building allowed for expansion of services to include a more comprehensive modern day care centre with provision of a larger number of specifically tailored clinics and therapies. The Society decided, following a local survey, that along with the fresh new building and enhanced services, a change of name was required to that which we are now as known today – The Cancer Relief Centre.

Today the Cancer Relief Centre facility, since opening its doors in April 2013, has provided care and support for thousands of people affected by cancer. We currently employ 14 members of staff, comprising of two separate clinical care teams, as well as operational and fundraising staff. Our clinical care teams are made up of the Centre Nursing team, staffed by specialist Cancer Support nurses and our Hospice Outreach Service (HOS). HOS launched in 2019 and provides specialist community Hospice care to cancer patients with palliative cancer, their families, and carers. The team consists of skilled hospice care nurses and healthcare assistants supported medically by our Hospice Doctor. Our additional holistic support services have also grown over the years and we now offer a wide range of therapeutic and complementary therapies.  We have come a long way since the early dreams of 1982 and are very proud of what we have achieved. All of which, could only have been made possible through the dedication and support of our local community. We are forever grateful to them for taking the Charity into their hearts. Our work and our services evolve in-line with the needs of our patients & families, our GHA colleagues and our community in general. With their on-going support we will continue to listen to the concerns and needs of those we care for and be the driving force for new initiates in cancer care in Gibraltar

Before & After

Grand Opening of Centre

On 24th Sept 2014, the new Cancer Relief Centre was officially opened in it’s new premises at 5, South Barrack Road. This much larger building, generously provided by the Government, would allow the charity to expand its reach and increase its services in ways that simply hadn’t been possible previously. Our Grand Opening was attended by the Chief Minister and Lady Williams herself and was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the past and future of a charity that has been, and will continue to be, an integral part of cancer care in Gibraltar.