WHEN she set up a makeshift helpline for brain tumour patients after her husband was diagnosed with the disease, Tina Mitchell Skinner never imagined that ten years on the ‘lifeline’ would grow into a leading UK charity.
Now that is has, however, the determined founder and chief executive of Thornbury-based Hammer Out has no intention to let the milestone anniversary pass her by.
She is in fact hoping to make 2013 a record-breaking year by raising up to £400,000 to provide emotional support to families going through the same ordeal she did.
Mrs Mitchell Skinner, from Alveston, told the Gazette: "Ten years is very significant. It’s a huge milestone; it’s ten years since my husband Paul died."
When her husband was diagnosed with brain tumour at the age of 35 after suffering from chronic headaches and fatigue, their well-ordered life was turned upside down. But what was most difficult for the couple was the lack of support out there for brain tumour patients and their families.
If no-one was willing to do something about it, then Mrs Mitchell Skinner decided she would do it herself.
"It was just me," the mother of 15-year-old John, said. “We put posters up around Frenchay Hospital.
“I did it for Paul because he was the one who wanted to speak to people and to patients who were going through the same thing. I would get phone calls at two in the morning. I never in a million years imagined it would grow to the extent it has."
Soon after her husband’s death in 2003, and in accordance with his final wishes, she set up her first support group. In 2005, the charity moved into offices in Oriel House on Castle Street before settling at Thornbury Business Park in 2009.
"Before he died Paul and I decided that no-one should have to face this traumatic journey alone and so Hammer Out was born—named after Paul’s beloved football team, West ham United," she added.
"Since Paul was diagnosed, support for families affected by a brain tumour, I am pleased to say, has improved enormously. I think Paul would be proud that we could fulfil this dream for him."
The charity has planned an action-packed programme of celebratory fundraising events throughout the year, including an abseil down St Mary’s Church tower in Thornbury on Saturday, March 16, skydives and a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro in September.
To take part or to find out more about Hammer Out visit www.hammerout.co.uk or call 01454 414355