Jersey skin cancer charity which launched following tragic death of an Islander has closed

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A JERSEY charity formed to highlight the dangers of skin cancer after the tragic death of a 29-year-old Islander has closed its doors.

Over the past 11 years, the Donna Annand Melanoma Charity worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the disease, the importance of early detection and to promote sun safety. Thousands of schoolchildren have been encouraged to ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ through its programmes and hundreds of professionals have been educated about detection of cancerous moles.

Skin cancer affects over 1,000 Islanders a year and cases are steadily rising around the world. Early detection is crucial as treatment can prevent the development of the more aggressive form, melanoma.

In announcing its winding down, chairwoman Kerry Petulla said DAMC were confident they had achieved their objectives and delivered ‘everything and more that Donna wished for’.

After Donna Annand passed away in 2011, her friends from her time at Hautlieu School and Tigers Swimming Club approached the family about setting up a charity, suggesting it would be a way to honour Donna’s dying wishes to raise awareness and help others avoid what she had been through with melanoma.

When DAMC was established, there were few medical professionals in the Island with the training to detect melanoma but since then the charity has provided continuous training to over 50 GPs and nurses with annual training from UK specialists. ‘In particular, Dr Stephen Hayes and his team became close friends of the charity and provided invaluable support and guidance to the charity over the years,’ Mrs Petulla said.

DAMC ran over 30 mole clinics and checked the skin of more than 5,000 Islanders, over its decade of operation. ‘The mole clinics were important for “on the job” training for the GPs and nurses but also raising greater awareness among Islanders about the importance of checking their skin regularly,’ Mrs Petulla said. ‘These clinics, without doubt, saved lives.’

Donna’s mother, Rosemary Le Saint, and sister Louisa McInnes were involved in the charity from the beginning, running it with a team of volunteers made up of Donna’s friends and others who had been touched by melanoma.

DAMC ran many youth outreach campaigns – particularly targeted at senior schools as melanoma is often a young person’s disease – hosting performances which reached over 4,000 students.

In 2015, the charity introduced Alan the Mole and took the lead in sun awareness for the Island Games which were held in Jersey, with the mascot visiting the events and handing out UV wrist bands and free sun cream.

‘Alan the Mole has been a key part of our awareness campaigns since and was used as our key focus for our Outdoor Worker Campaign that we launched in 2019, in which we provided awareness packages to over 200 businesses that employ staff to work outdoors,’ Mrs Petulla said.

He also visited local nurseries and primary school to bring the ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ message to children.

Mrs Petulla thanked nurse Diane Rolland for her guidance over the years. ‘With Diane’s support we trained over 100 hairdressers, physiotherapists, masseurs so that they could help spot unusual moles and often in unusual places that people can’t see (back, behind ears, scalp etc),’ she said.

Earlier this month, DAMC de-registered as a charity and all remaining funds will be passed on to Macmillan Jersey.

‘We at Macmillan Jersey are completely humbled to be continuing Donna’s legacy here on the Island,’ the charity’s chief executive, Steph Gibaut, said.

‘As a charity we feel very passionate about the work the Donna Annand charity have done over the past 11 years in raising awareness and assisting in prevention of, to protect against, and promote the early detection of melanoma. We look forward to working alongside the team to ensure that their beliefs and values continue within the team at Macmillan Jersey.

‘We are so grateful to everyone at the Donna Annand charity for choosing to support Macmillan Jersey and allowing us the privilege to continue the memory of Donna.’

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