Queen's honour a proud achievement for Omagh Care for Cancer stalwart

William Smith


William Smith



AN OMAGH man who is a familiar face at a local cancer support charity has been honoured for his efforts which have spanned 25 years.

On the recent Queen's Birthday Honours list, Ivan Gilmore received a BEM for his voluntary services to cancer patients and their families.

Ivan is a steadfast volunteer for Care for Cancer Omagh, a local charity which supports the community of Omagh and its surrounding areas, providing information and practical support to cancer patients, their carers and families.

Ivan, who got involved with Care for Cancer, when a close family member had cancer, has carried out a number of roles within the charity over the years, and predominantly acts as a delivery driver of recliner chairs for the terminally ill.

Speaking to the Tyrone Constitution, Ivan said receiving a BEM for his efforts as "one of his proudest achievements."

"I am incredibly proud to have been honoured, and to be honest, it came completely out of the blue," he said. "I have been here for 25 years, and I got involved when a close family member had cancer. I actually saw an advert in 'The Con', and I soon became treasurer.

"There's hardly a day, except when I was on holiday, that I haven't been here. The work is very, very rewarding and I get a huge sense of purpose out of it.

"People think Care for Cancer is a sad place, but it's far from it - everyone picks each other up, and many say it is their 'safe space'. Throughout the pandemic, this was the only place many people were happy to come to and felt safe in."

Care for Cancer covers a 26-mile radius, taking in Omagh and the surrounding area, and as far as Enniskillen.

Ivan continued: "The charity serves a huge area and we don't turn anyone away. Very important work goes on here, and at present we have around 60 volunteers.

"These are all people generously giving up their time to carry out the range of services offered, which includes bra fitting, a drop-in centre, transport for patients to hospital appointments, complementary therapies and much, much more.

"I have met thousands of people over the years, and many have become great friends. For me, completing 25 years with Care for Cancer was a great achievement in itself, so to get this honour is simply amazing.

"I would just like to thank all the clients and volunteers, and everyone who helped me throughout the past 25 years."

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