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Grandad supports cancer patients by volunteering as a driver

Alan Powell from Roosebeck helping out at CancerCare’s accessible gym session in Barrow.

[C]ancerCare is marking national Volunteer’s Week by celebrating people in Barrow, Ulverston and the wider Furness Peninsula who give up their time to support the charity.

Volunteers’ Week takes place from June 1 to June 7 and is organised by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Alan Powell, a dad and grandad who lives in Roosebeck near Ulverston, has been a volunteer with Furness CancerCare since it first started in Barrow in 2016.

Alan’s daughter Rachel Minshull, who is CancerCare’s Barrow and Furness Development Officer, encouraged him to get involved when the charity was getting off the ground in the area.

Originally from Manchester, Alan says he has enjoyed doing DIY for CancerCare in Barrow and working as one of the charity’s volunteer drivers.

“I’ve been involved from the start,” says Alan. “I boxed in pipes and did the decorating of the Furness Centre in Barrow with Rachel.

“I worked as an engineer fitting fire sprinkler systems until I retired early 10 years ago. For someone like me who is retired, volunteering with CancerCare is a great way of meeting people and getting out of the house.

“I enjoy it a lot. As a volunteer driver, I pick up a couple of clients per day. It’s about two hours per person from picking them up, waiting while they have their hour of therapy and then taking them home again.

“I often have a chat with them and they’ll say things like, ‘I enjoyed that session’.

“I’m quite a shy person really. Put me in a room with a group of people and I will be the last person to speak. I’m much happier when it’s one-to-one.

“I pick CancerCare’s clients up from places like Ulverston, Dalton and Askham and take them to the centre in Barrow.

“It’s nice to know you’re helping people.”

Alan has also volunteered at various CancerCare events in Barrow including manning a water station at the Keswick to Barrow (K2B) Walk and acting as an ‘extra’ in an ITV film made to promote the charity’s entry for the recent National Lottery People’s Projects competition to win money to set up support groups in Barrow.

Alan was delighted when Barrow went on to win £32,000 to set up activity and creative groups for people affected by cancer.

He adds: “I’m very proud of Rachel. She has worked very hard to build up CancerCare in Barrow and Furness.

“When you see the amount of people who are using the service and asking to be referred, you can see how much it’s needed.

“It’s good to be part of something new and positive in Barrow. I’m very happy to see it growing.”

If you are interested in volunteering with CancerCare in Barrow and Furness, please contact Rachel Minshull on 01229 836 926, email [email protected] or go to