Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

OPAAL’s First Patron


OPAAL's  Patron

OPAAL’s Patron

I am absolutely delighted to announce that the Duchess of Northumberland has kindly agreed to become OPAAL’s first Patron.
Our National Development Officer, Marie McWilliams, is no stranger to the Duchess since the pair worked together on setting up Elderberries, the Older People’s programme of events which take place in the Alnwick Garden for which the Duchess is rightfully well known.
The Duchess is known for much more than the Alnwick Garden however. Her biography notes:
The Duchess of Northumberland is a mother of 2 sons and 2 daughters. She is the visionary behind The Alnwick Garden, the largest visitor attraction in the North East. It is a registered charity which aims to raise aspirations and run charitable programmes for the education and well-being of the local community. She is particularly interested in natural poisons and aphrodisiacs and has built one of the only Poison Gardens in the world in which every plant is a killer. The Duchess is Patron or President of over 70 charities in the region. She was awarded The Variety Club Silver Heart, the highest accolade awarded by The Variety Club, for her services to charity and disabled and disadvantaged children in the North East. The Duchess is the Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland.
OPAAL is really delighted therefore that the Duchess has agreed to make OPAAL her first National patronage.
Her Grace explained why OPAAL is an organisation worth getting involved with:
“OPAAL rightly want to ensure that any older person who needs the support of an independent advocate gets it. It must be very difficult for an older person who feels they are not being listened to or who is not being treated with dignity or respect. To have no suitable family member or friend to stand by you and stick up for you must be doubly difficult and that’s why independent advocacy is so vital.
The innovative work that OPAAL is leading on for older people affected by cancer is inspiring. Hopefully this type of support will eventually be freely available across the country like it already is in Gateshead, where AgeUK Gateshead is part of the national Cancer, Older People and Advocacy pilot project.”
Kay Steven, Chair of OPAAL welcomes the Duchess as Patron of OPAAL.
“The Duchess’s commitment to promoting wellbeing in communities complements OPAAL’s work. OPAAL’s members work and advocate in local communities with older people. As advocates they can ensure older people have a say and are central to choices and decisions impacting on their lives. I have no doubt that the Duchess’s support will help raise the profile of how advocacy benefits older people in the North East and nationally”.

Photo by kind permission of Margaret Whitaker


Author: kathparson

Chief Executive of Older People's Advocacy Alliance (UK)

7 thoughts on “OPAAL’s First Patron

  1. Wonderful news Kath,   just what OPAAL needed!   Congratulations   Ron


  2. Brilliant – what an honour – Monica


  3. Excellent news. Well done and thanks to Marie for the contact!


  4. Fantastic to receive the recognition and support of the Duchess and to have Age UK Gateshead mentioned for the work that we are doing on the pilot Gateshead Cancer Advocacy Project. Spreading the word that we are up and running is a big part of the task ahead of us and having the Duchess of Northumberland as Patron of OPAAL will help achieve even better publicity.


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