The Prince of Wales has joined a member of Britain’s other Royle Family to encourage the nation to brew up for Macmillan Cancer Support’s coffee morning this Friday.
In a video message, Charles celebrated the 30th anniversary of the fundraising event that allows people to “raise a cuppa” to those battling cancer and said it represented the “very best of British community spirit”.
Actress Sue Johnston, who starred in the popular BBC comedy The Royle Family, is one of a number of celebrities who appear in new three-minute films to narrate the stories of Macmillan nurses and people with cancer.
The coffee morning raised almost £30 million last year and is vital for Macmillan as public donations provide 98% of its income, but the charity now faces losing a third of its total donation money due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The prince, who is Macmillan’s patron, said: “Over the years it has become not only a formidable fundraising campaign, raising an incredible £27.4 million last year, but also an invaluable opportunity for friends and family to come together to share experiences and to ‘raise a cuppa’ to those affected by cancer.
“It truly represents the very best of British community spirit – and, in current times, we are learning just how powerful communities can be, especially in a crisis.
“Macmillan works tirelessly across all areas – physical, emotional and financial – to support people when they need it most.”
Supporting the charity is close to Johnston’s heart as her father was cared for by Macmillan nurses.
The former Brookside actress narrated the poignant story of Macmillan lead cancer nurse Lynda Hall.
Speaking the nurse’s words, Johnston said: “The job is to be there for people.
“Being there when patients are being told bad news, helping them through their treatment, and afterwards, when they’ve finished treatment, we need to help them adjust to what comes next.
“At the end of the day, that patient is somebody’s family – their mum or dad or brother or sister or husband or wife. You know, they’re important, and that could be one of your family there, so treat them accordingly.”
Tenet star Himesh Patel also recorded a film as has Silent Witness actress Emilia Fox, Cold Feet’s Cel Spellman and Killing Eve’s Nina Sosanya.
Fox speaks the words of Emma Young, who in 2014 was given six months to live after being diagnosed with bone and breast cancer and today describes her cancer as “stable”.
The actress said: “My relationship didn’t work out, so now I am a single mum – to three gorgeous children.
“It’s hard, it’s tiring but it gives me something to focus on and a reason to get out of bed every day. I urgently needed to give them experiences, make memories. I didn’t know how long I had, so time was of the essence.”
Macmillan has said its flagship coffee morning is facing a £20 million drop in income and a fall of this size could risk more than 80,000 cancer patients missing out on support from a Macmillan nurse next year.
In response to the pandemic and the latest “rule of six” coronavirus guidance, the charity has adapted the event and people can now join in by hosting a socially distanced stall on their doorstep, organising a virtual get-together, taking on a fitness challenge or by uploading a “Raising a Mug” selfie and donating.
Claire Rowney, executive director of fundraising, marketing and communications at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “These short films are a powerful reminder of the lifeline Macmillan provides to people living with cancer every day – something that we simply won’t be able to do in the same way in the future, without the public’s generous donations.”