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Charity comes full circle by making final donation to Swansea's cancer centre

Image shows a group of people holding a large cheque.

A charity formed after three neighbours had cancer diagnoses has ended where it started with a donation to the South West Wales Cancer Centre.

It was in 2004 that the newly formed Apel Canser Ail Gyfle, Second Chance Cancer Appeal, made its first presentation, a cheque for £2,500, to the SWWCC, located at Swansea’s Singleton Hospital.

And charity representatives have returned there 20 years later to make their final presentation, for £3,700, before winding up.

Pictured above: Consultant clinical oncologist and SWWCC clinical lead Dr Russell Banner, consultant clinical oncologist Dr Sarah Gwynne, and Mansel Thomas, Janice Davies and Gethin Davies from Apel Canser Ail Gyfle, Second Chance Cancer Appeal.

Ail Gyfle was formed after Catherine Millin, Huw Williams and Mansel Thomas, who lived within yards of each other in Meinciau Road, Mynyddygarreg, each had a cancer diagnosis.

Mansel, who has served as the charity’s event organiser throughout its existence, said: “Catherine had two children in the local primary school and the school’s PTA decided to put on a fundraising concert.

“At the same time, with the help of David Gravell of Gravell’s in Kidwelly, I organised a concert that raised money for the cancer unit in Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli, where I was treated for bowel cancer.

“I thought to myself, those two different concerts raised a lot of money so why don’t we get together?

“We had a meeting in Mynyddygarreg Rugby Club, and we decided to form the charity. We called it Ail Gyfle, or Second Chance, because all three of us had been given a second chance. Everyone on the committee had some kind of connection with cancer.”

Various events including coffee mornings, a strawberry tea and a dinner party led up to the official launch of the charity with a concert, also at the rugby club, in September 2004.

The charity’s first donation was to the South West Wales Cancer Centre, with another cheque, also for £2,500, presented to the Breast Care Unit at Prince Philip Hospital that same day.

Over the years, Ail Gyfle has raised around £103,700. This has been shared between hospitals in Swansea, Llanelli and Carmarthen, as well as the Teenager Cancer Unit in Cardiff and other cancer-related causes.

Numerous events were held at a variety of locations in the area, all of which were magnificently supported by the local community.

Sadly, the charity lost two of its three founding members, Catherine and Huw. And now it has made the difficult decision to call it a day. “Covid happened and everything came to a stop,” said Mansel.

“Also, we were all getting on. Most of the current ageing committee had been there from the very beginning.

“We did invite younger people, and by that I mean in their 50s and 60s, to join us but everyone had so many commitments, that didn’t work out.

“We are proud of what we have achieved and would thank everyone who has supported Ail Gyfle over the years.

“It has been a fascinating journey for such a small community but a journey that has made a contribution to the fight against cancer.”

The last two events the committee organised, in fact the only two since the pandemic, were a fashion show and a coffee morning.

Mansel was joined by charity secretary Janice Davies and chairman Gethin Davies to make the final donation to the SWWCC.

But, he said, it was pure coincidence that the last cheque was handed over to the same place as the first.

“We had already decided to make the last donation to the cancer centre,” he explained. “It was only when we looked back at where all the money had gone over the years that we realised the first cheque came here.”

The South West Wales Cancer Fund supports the SWCC. It’s one of hundreds of funds that come under the umbrella of Swansea Bay Health Charity, 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.

Dr Russell Banner, consultant clinical oncologist and clinical lead at the SWWCC, said: “On behalf of the South West Wales Cancer Centre, I want to say thank you so much for your support over 20 years, which has been faithful and much welcomed.

“This donation will be used for ongoing research and support for cancer patients. We are truly grateful.”


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. We use charitable funds to improve patient care and staff wellbeing throughout the health board by providing equipment, staff training, funding research and completing special projects, which go above and beyond what the NHS is able to provide.

For more information, visit the charity’s website:

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