VIDEO: Olympic icon Jessica Ennis-Hill launches £500K Beyond The Treatment cancer appeal

Olympic golden girl Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill had a blast today launching a new £500,000 Weston Park Cancer Charity appeal to improve the experiences of cancer patients in the region.

She used an air horn to sound the start of fundraising for Beyond The Treatment - which will see a huge refurbishment and modernisation of wards in her home city at Sheffield’s Weston Park Hospital.

It will include WiFi and tech solutions to help patients stay in touch with their families using Smart TVs to make video calls, plus the introduction of lots of other home comforts for patients and visitors.

The hospital admits 3,500 people every year from Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster, Worksop and Chesterfield.

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VIDEO: Watch the official Beyond The Treatment video - CLICK HERE.

Charity bosses say the Beyond The Treatment appeal aims to make patients feel more comfortable and less isolated during their stay, along with improvements to day room facilities for visiting relatives and children.

As part of the transformation wards will get recliner chairs, circadian lighting to help patients sleep and an activity hub, with new technology also including access to iPads, DVD players, books and magazines.

A service to provide headscarves and support for people who have lost their hair as a result of their treatment, will also be paid for through the project.

Weston Park Cancer Charity needs to raise £500,000 by the end of September to cover the costs of the refurbishments and is calling on South Yorkshire businesses, community groups and individuals to help.

Dame Jessica, a Patron of the charity since 2011, put on a hard hat to tour wards where extensive building work is already underway as she launched the appeal today and explained: "We need to raise £500k to give two wards a big refurb.

"I live in the city. I've had friends and family who have visited this hospital. It's great to have this hospital here. To be able to be in a position to draw people to the appeal and give money, to make the hospital better for our city, is a very privileged position to be in.

“Weston Park Cancer Charity does incredible work and I am very proud to be helping them launch this campaign, which aims to make life that little bit easier for people being treated for cancer.

"I’m hoping that the people of South Yorkshire join me in helping the Beyond the Treatment appeal hits its target and make a difference.”

Samantha Kennedy, director of Weston Park Cancer Charity, said: “Going through treatment for cancer can be exhausting, painful, and often quite lonely, so we’re determined to help patients and their loved ones feel at home during their time in hospital.

“Thanks to the generosity of the people of South Yorkshire we have been able to support the hospital’s work around cancer research, treatment and care for the last 23 years, and we’re really hoping the community can get behind us again for this appeal. It’s an ambitious target, but it will make a huge difference to people going through the most difficult time of their lives.”

Former patient Andy Gardiner is also backing the appeal, in recognition of the care he received at the hospital five years ago.

Andy, aged 66, who lives in Nether Edge with his wife Lynne, was treated for a rare bone cancer and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy before major facial reconstruction surgery.

He said: “The care I received from the staff was outstanding, but a television, internet connection, a reclining chair, a private toilet - things we take for granted at home - would have helped enormously. Going through treatment for cancer is very difficult, and small things like this can make it that bit easier. I urge everyone to get behind this appeal, to help the hospital like they helped me.”

The NHS is covering the cost of extending and refurbishing the wards, which includes adding more single en-suite rooms, upgrading bay rooms and improving bathroom facilities. The money raised by Weston Park Cancer Charity will enhance the new wards beyond the basic standard to improve the experiences of patients and their loved ones.

Work on the first of the wards has already begun and the full refurbishment is due for completion in September. The hospital will remain fully operational throughout the refurbishment process.

Looking radiant, mum-to-be Jessica who recently released her first children's book, Evie's Magic Bracelet: The Silver Unicorn, added: "I've a very exciting year ahead. I'm feeling very well. I'm due in the autumn, so a while to go yet but I'm jeeping busy.

"My first book is out and it's going to be one of seven, so lots more books coming out and it's been really great fun to do."

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