A FORMER nurse who battled back from the brink after being given just days to live was chosen to open a new superstore charity shop dedicated to saving lives.
Laura Barr of Paisley was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain tumour but stunned loved ones by making amazing progress and even proved well enough to jet off to visit friends and family in Australia. Now she’s joined cancer scientist Dr Emmanuel Dornier and Renfrewshire Provost Anne Hall as VIPs at the official opening ceremony of Scotland’s largest Cancer Research UK shop at Phoenix Retail Park, Linwood. The superstore, which at 4,916 sq ft is more than five times the size of a normal Cancer Research UK shop, will sell products for £3 and under. It’s part of a plan to meet customer demand for more accessible stores with easy access and plenty of parking. Due to the size of the shop there will much more on offer, from clothing to books, with great discount prices and all profits going to the charity’s work to help beat cancer sooner.
Laura, 49, said: “It feels wonderful to be here today to help launch this superstore which will raise so much for vital research into cancer but also be such a positive force for good in the community.
“I hope my story inspires others going through cancer to fight it all the way. I was at rock bottom. All my family had come to say a final goodbye to me but I came back from that. I’m still here. When you come back from death’s door you have to do everything you can to live and love every second of your life and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’ve got a great family who have been a wonderful support to me.
“I have a good life and I’m determined to keep as fit as I possibly can. Some effects of my illness are challenging but I don’t let that keep me down. I’m enjoying cycling again and living every moment.”
Laura who raised more than £4,500 for Cancer Research UK after completing the 5K Race for Life Glasgow in May teamed up with Dr Emmanuel Dornier to cut the ribbon to open the doors of the Linwood superstore. Dr Dornier, 31, is a scientist at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow where he is researching how cancer cells grow, survive and spread. Dr Dornier is exploring how to slow down the spread of breast and pancreatic cancer, working to develop gentler and more effective treatments for patients.
Dr Dornier said: “My own mum, Adoracion Flor was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year.
“It was discovered very early, she’s had surgery and is now doing very well so on a personal and a professional level I’m very committed to doing everything I can to help beat cancer sooner. It’s been a pleasure to meet Laura at the new Cancer Research UK superstore today.
“Her inspiring story really brings home the importance of raising funds to support the charity’s ground-breaking work into the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.”
The shop will be home to Scotland’s first Your Health Hub- with senior cancer awareness nurses, Louise Dewhurst and Christina Brown, running free sessions in store once a fortnight, starting on Friday, September 30. Visitors will be able to drop in or book a time slot to have a confidential conversation with a nurse who can offer support on making positive lifestyle changes and encourage Scots to go to their GP with any health concerns. Visitors will also be able to find out their BMI (body mass index) to check if their weight is within a healthy range as well as get expert advice on everything from stopping smoking to cutting down alcohol consumption and the importance of returning their bowel screening kit. A special private room in the shop will also offer people the chance to phone the Cancer Research UK nurse helpline on Freephone 0808 800 4040.
Renfrewshire’s Provost Anne Hall also attended the Cancer Research UK superstore opening, chatting with shop staff, volunteers and customers as well as enjoying listening to bagpipes expertly played by Iain Melvin of Piping Services Scotland and Saltire Beat.
Provost Hall said: “As a former nurse myself, I recognise the impact that cancer can have on people and their families so I’m delighted that Linwood will house this fantastic facility.
“Cancer is an illness which has affected almost everyone in some way so the opening of this new store- and especially the drop in consultation room- will be of great benefit to the local and wider community.”
Cancer survival rates have doubled since the 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress. But more funds and more supporters are needed to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. Cancer Research UK spends around £33 million a year in Scotland on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.
Shop manager Gina Esplin appealed for more volunteers to sign up to help run the superstore. Flexible hours are available and anyone interested in volunteering is invited to call into the shop to find out more. The shop is open seven days a week, 10am to 6.30pm. Donations of good-quality clothes, shoes, bags are being taken by the store. Each bag of donated clothes is worth up to £25- even more if supporters sign up for Gift Aid.
To find out more about Cancer Research UK’s shops, visit www.cancerresearchuk/shop