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Blooming thousands raised for cancer care from sunflowers grown by school pupils

St Joseph

Green-fingered pupils have helped raise more than £60,000 for cancer support by growing sunflowers, inspired by a teacher who lost her husband to the disease.

Every year the youngsters at St Joseph’s in Clydach raise sponsorship by competing to grow the tallest sunflower, which is donated to the South West Wales Cancer Centre at Singleton Hospital.

The event was first organised by teacher Juliet Stack 27 years ago, in memory of husband Peter James who was diagnosed with cancer just before the couple’s first wedding anniversary. He died when the couple’s daughter Robyn was just six months old.

Mrs Stack, who is now the school’s headteacher, said: “With bereavement people often want to do something to keep themselves busy.

“I went back to school because I wanted a focus and I came up with the idea of a flower competition because Peter was a horticulturist, and it has really taken off over the years”.

St Joseph

The school hosts an annual show in tandem with the flower growing competition, during which winners are presented with their prizes.

This year the 27th Sunflower competition was held at St Benedict’s Church in Clydach, where a stained-glass window memorialises Peter, as well as a number of other parishioners.

After losing her husband, Mrs Stack went on to remarry Brendan Stack who also lost his wife Carole to cancer. Her name also features on the stained-glass window.

Mrs Stack added: “Without the support of my colleagues, parents and pupils this would not be possible. It is always a fabulous day where we celebrate treasured memories of people and also over the year’s wonderful memories of special Sunflower days.”

The South West Wales Cancer Charity Fund is one of the hundreds of individual funds that come under the umbrella of Swansea Bay Health Charity.

Memorial window St Benedict

This is the health board’s official charity. Money raised is used for equipment, staff training, research and special projects for the benefit of our patients and staff, above and beyond what the NHS can provide.

Cathy Stevens, the charity’s community fundraising officer, said: “The support the pupils, staff and their families have shown the South West Wales Cancer Centre over the past 27 years is overwhelming.

“Through their amazing fundraising efforts we have been able to purchase specialised equipment to hep improve care for our cancer patients from Bridgend to Swansea, across all of West Wales and as far north as Aberystwyth.

“The centre is the second largest non-surgical cancer centre in Wales with lifesaving chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.

“On behalf of all the staff, patients and volunteers at the cancer centre, thank you for you continued support.”

If this story has inspired you to raise funds for your local NHS then Swansea Bay Health Charity would love to hear from you.

Email the charity team at:

Swansea Bay Health Charity (registered charity number 1122805) is the official charity of Swansea Bay University Health Board.

It plays a vital role in raising money for projects and activities that support patients, whilst it also supports a range of projects to improve the working conditions and support available to staff. 

Nearly all wards and departments have their own fund, which all come under the Swansea Bay Health Charity umbrella.

So if someone wants to give something back for the care they or a loved one has received, the charity ensures the funds raised will go directly there.

The charity does not replace NHS funding but uses generations donations received from patients, their families, staff and local communities to provide above and beyond what they NHS can provide.

To find out more, follow this link to the Swansea Bay Health Charity website.

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