Melksham cancer group founder is monthly Wiltshire Times hero

Wiltshire Times: Marie Bucknell-Smith with the Wiltshire Times award Marie Bucknell-Smith with the Wiltshire Times award

Community fundraiser Marie Bucknell-Smith is the winner of this month’s Wiltshire Times Community Hero due to the rapid success of the Melksham charity group she set up this year.

Mrs Bucknell-Smith and her husband Rob Bucknell were involved with Swindon Cancer Research for a number of years but found that when they moved to Bowerhill there was no cancer research group in Melksham.

They set up Cancer Research UK Melksham in January this year and aimed to raise £5,000. They surpassed that amount and to date have raised £10,000.

Mrs Bucknell-Smith, who has lost eight family members to cancer and whose mother was diagnosed with the disease last month, said: “It has taken off at such a fast pace.

“We started with collections in shops and eventually we had something for every month; quiz nights, autumn party and a curry night. Money started to come in.

“It is overwhelming. Words cannot express how I feel because I don’t think any of us envisaged it becoming such a success within a year. It is the support from the people of Melksham that has been fantastic.

“We have had tremendous support from Melksham businesses. It is the little things, like helping with the printing and advertising, that make a difference.

“The area volunteer manager of Cancer Research said she had never had a group that had risen so fast and raised so much in such a short amount of time. We have put Melksham on the map.”

Mrs Bucknell-Smith, who works up to 40 hours a week for the charity, said there were fundraising plans already in place for next year, including a static bike ride the distance of Land’s End to John O’Groats and an assault course.

She added: “The charity is close to my heart. We have all been touched by cancer. The highlight is raising so much money and knowing we are helping someone. That was the purpose of the group; I want people to have a chance of survival.”

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