The Duchess of Cornwall has a long history of supporting organisations focusing on health. It’s this interest that led her to become President of Maggie’s Cancer Centre.
Maggie’s, founded in 1996 in Edinburgh, recognises that people need more than just treatment. They offer a broad range of things to deliver a comprehensive package of support. In 2018, they gave practical, social, and emotional support to over 200,000 people.
Those who visit Maggie’s can choose to take up a variety of courses or activities. Those wanting practical support receive education about stress, proper exercise, and eating well. Their emotional support covers creative writing groups, expressive arts, and bereavement support while those wanting social support have access to gardening groups as well as the use of the space within the Centre. Each Maggie’s complex is focused around what they call the heart of the centre; a kitchen table. The table is a place offered to those wanting a place to read, talk, or just relax.
Every Maggie’s Cntre is purpose-built with specific architectural goals in mind. The founder of Maggies, Maggie Keswick Jencks, felt that the environment of care facilities was important to a person diagnosed with cancer after receiving her own diagnosis. She spoke greatly of specific types of architecture and features that she felt were beneficial. Maggie’s emphasises architecture as an important part of its care to create a calm, welcoming, and uplifting environment.
The Duchess of Cornwall first visited a Maggie’s Cancer Centre in Edinburgh in 2008. It was there she saw the vital support Maggie’s provided. The Duchess was aware that a new centre was due to be built near her home, and wanted to get a first-hand view of the care that would soon be offered to her local community. Maggie’s then approached the Duchess to request that she become President.
In the role of President, the Duchess has made several visits to Maggie’s centres, hosted a dinner for supporters in her home, and raised awareness of the work that Maggie’s does.
The Duchess speaks highly of Maggie’s describing them as “the most uplifting places you could ever be, and you come out feeling better. That is surely the point of Maggie’s – you see so many smiling faces”
At the time of the Duchess’ appointment as president, Laura Lee, Chief Executive of Maggie’s said that: “Having her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall join Maggie’s as our president is a remarkable moment in a truly landmark year for us.” The charity describes the Duchess as one of their greatest advocates.
Laura Lee has recently been named a Dame in the Queens Birthday Honours list. She was working as a clinical nurse specialist when she first met Maggie Jencks. Since then, she helped put Maggie’s vision into practice, serving as CEO of Maggie’s for 23 years and played a leading role in the development of their current 17 centres. Upon being awarded the honour, Laura spoke about her ambitions for the future: “We have come a long way but I want to see 60 centres across the UK one day.”