Not for Profit

Published: December 19, 2021 | Updated: December 19, 2021

Former Wimborne schoolboy now living in USA funds quiet room for breast screening patients

(Left to right) DCCF Trustee Meryl Ponsford; Mel Huish, Breast Imaging Manager for the Dorset Breast Screening Service and DCCF Co-founder Leslie-May Harrison inside the patients’ Quiet Room created in memory of Betty Hyams.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Money from an American donor has been used to help create a tranquil room for breast screening patients prior to referral for treatment at Poole Hospital.

Former Wimborne schoolboy Steven Blonstein, now living in California, donated more than £240,000 to the Dorset Cancer Care Foundation (DCCF) in 2015.

The money was left by his late aunt Betty Hyams, pictured right, who passed away in 2013 aged 86.

In her will, Betty stated that should either beneficiary of her estate pass away from cancer prior to herself, their share should be awarded to a cancer-based charity.

Steve’s sister Anne had already passed away from cancer, and because he had fond memories of his childhood in Dorset, he wanted her inheritance to help people here.

So, he contacted DCCF, which gives financial assistance to Dorset people diagnosed with cancer, for its help.

DCCF Co-founder Leslie-May Harrison said: “The donation from Steve was unexpected and wonderful and we have taken the responsibility of finding projects to benefit from his aunt’s money, very seriously.

“DCCF has already used some of Betty’s money to help fund cancer projects at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Lewis-Manning Hospice in Poole and the Wessex Cancer Trust.

“The latest place to benefit from her legacy is University Hospitals Dorset NHS Charity, which used the £30,000 we have given to create a tranquil room at the Poole Hospital Dorset Breast Screening Unit, where people going through breast cancer treatment can rest and reflect.

“It is a beautiful room and we look forward to sending Steve some pictures of it and the special plaque outside, which honours his aunt.”

Mel Huish, Breast Imaging Manager for the Dorset Breast Screening Service at University Hospitals Dorset, said: “Giving results to patients and their families has been a struggle for many years in our department, as we only had a small breast care nurses office which was no more than 7ft by 5ft and completely unsuitable.

“The room also backed onto a busy ultrasound room which was not quiet.

“Having a large, dedicated room has made such a difference to our staff and in particular our patients.

“It is also a space that does not feel clinical and gives patients and their families time and space to come to terms with their referral for treatment.

“We feel so lucky that organisations like the DCCF provide support to enable a project like this to be made possible.”

Steve Blonstein, pictured on a visit to Bournemouth in 2015, is retired from the tech industry and operates the West Valley Flying Club in the San Francisco Bay area of California.

He moved to America aged 22.

But between the ages of 11 and 18, he and his family lived in Wimborne.

In 2015, Steve visited Dorset to view projects DCCF recommended to receive his aunt’s money, including the Royal Bournemouth Hospital garden, part of which was landscaped thanks to a Betty Hyams donation.

Speaking from California about the Breast Cancer Unit Quiet Room, Steve said: “I’m thrilled to see the continuing benefits of my donation.

“A quiet room such as this one will provide  comfort to many people who are coping with a new diagnosis.

“It is also wonderful to see the DCCF continuing to thrive in my home county of Dorset.”

DCCF would like to hear from fundraisers and local companies looking to support the charity’s work in 2022.

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