A year ago, Steven Blonstein, from California, contacted the Dorset Cancer Care Foundation (DCCF) and told the charity he wanted to give them a generous donation from his late aunt’s estate.
He asked the DCCF to create a fitting memorial to his aunt and sister (also deceased) by awarding the money to worthy cancer projects across Dorset.
On November 24, trustees from DCCF took Mr Blonstein to visit their shortlisted projects.
With Steve’s support, DCCF is pleased to announce that Betty Hyams Awards totalling more than £240,000 will be made to cancer related projects at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Lewis-Manning Hospice in Poole and the Wessex Cancer Trust.
Mr Blonstein, 54, said: “In 2013 my aunt, Betty Hyams from London, passed away at the age of 86, leaving myself and my sister Anne as benefactors in her will.
“My aunt stated that should either beneficiary pass away from cancer prior to herself, their share should be awarded to a cancer-based charity.
“As my sister had already passed away from cancer, and because I have such fond memories of my childhood in Dorset, I knew I wanted it to help people here and so I contacted DCCF for their help.
“Today, thanks to DCCF, I have the pleasure of seeing how that money will benefit thousands of Dorset people.”
Mr Blonstein moved to the US aged 22. But between the ages of 11 and 18, he and his family lived in Wimborne and he attended Hardy’s Grammar School in Dorchester.
Now retired from the high tech industry, the father-of-three operates a large flying club in the San Francisco Bay area of California.
He continued: “I think it came as quite a surprise to the DCCF when I first told them I wanted to give them close to a quarter of a million pounds. But although they are a small charity, I could see they really care about local cancer sufferers’ needs and I was confident they would choose the right projects to receive the money.”
The DCCF charity was set up by three local women in 2012 and provides financial grants for local people affected by cancer. The charity can pay for everything from travel expenses to and from hospital, to wigs, help with childcare and much needed short breaks.
Mike Pask, the treasurer of DCCF, said: “We were deeply honoured that Steve entrusted us to administer the Betty Hyams Awards and have spent the last year visiting projects and deliberating.
“We have already given Lewis-Manning Hospice in Poole two awards, including £18,500 towards a treatment room where day patients can receive medication they need through the night.
“And while it has been very hard to choose between so many great projects across the county, we have no doubt that this and the others we have chosen will benefit local people for many years to come.”
Bournemouth Hospital Charity is to receive a Betty Hyams Award to help build a therapeutic garden for patients.
Dr Helen McCarthy, Consultant Haematologist, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have received this Betty Hyams Award towards the Orchard Therapeutic Garden, which will be created outside the new Jigsaw Building and will benefit the patients of the Women’s Health Unit, Cancer and Oncology Department and Renal patients.”
She added: “A patient’s environment can have a really positive impact on their experience at what can be a very frightening and difficult time of their lives and the garden will help give patients a sanctuary to go to between treatments.”
Wessex Cancer Trust will receive a Betty Hyams Award to assist with setting up support centres in Dorchester and Bournemouth.
Chief executive Cait Allen, said: “We are so excited to be working with Dorset Cancer Care Foundation to improve the lives of local people with cancer and their families. And we are incredibly grateful to Mr Blonstein for his generosity.
“Our aim is to provide counselling and therapies in an easy to access and friendly place, away from the clinical hospital environment. This new partnership will ensure the people of Dorset can get the care they need in their local community.”
After his tour of the projects Mr Blonstein said: “I think both my aunt and my sister would have been very happy to know they are helping to provide access to much-needed therapies and counselling for cancer patients across the county.
“My aunt also loved her own garden and would have admired the peaceful therapeutic garden being created for the patients of the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.”
He added: “It has been very inspiring to learn more about these exciting new projects and to know that my aunt’s legacy will play a part in helping so many people. I am very thankful to the DCCF for its hard work in making this happen.”
DCCF would like to hear from potential new supporters and fundraisers. An informal coffee morning and chance to find out more will take place at The Plantation, Canford Cliffs on Sunday January 24, 2016, from 10am-12 noon.
Steve Blonstein looks out over the hospital site that his bequest will help to transform into a therapeutic garden
Betty Hyams (deceased)