American Steve Blonstein, who donated quarter of a million pounds to Dorset cancer charities, has unveiled the county’s first ‘Betty Bus’.
Californian airfield GM Steve contacted Dorset Cancer Care Foundation two years ago and made them the shock offer of £250,000 from his late aunt’s will.
Having spent part of his childhood in Dorset, he wanted the money to be spent on good causes here.
Dorset Cancer Care Foundation (DCCF) which provides financial grants for local people affected by cancer set about finding suitable projects to receive a legacy.
And on Wednesday (November 23) Steve officially unveiled the ‘Betty Bus’ – an innovative, new mobile counselling service and information point for cancer sufferers, which has been named in honour of his aunt Betty Hyams.
Mr Blonstein, 55, officially launched the bus with Jeff Mostyn, the Chairman of AFC Bournemouth and Patron of Dorset Cancer Care Foundation.
He said: “It’s fantastic to come back to Dorset and see how my aunt’s money has been used to help people with cancer.
“When I asked DCCF to find suitable projects for her money I placed a great deal of responsibility on them. But the Betty Bus is an excellent idea which I am sure my aunt would have loved. It’s great to know her legacy will live on in this way.”
The Betty Bus will be operated by the Wessex Cancer Trust and will make regular stops in rural areas where traditional cancer support might not be available.
The vehicle has a drop-in area and private room for one to one counselling and information sessions.
Emotional support will be offered through Wessex Cancer Trust’s trained Befrienders.
Chris Thomas, Chairman of DCCF, said: “We are deeply honoured that Steve entrusted us to administer what have become the Betty Hyams Awards.
“While it has been very hard to choose between so many great projects across the county, we have no doubt that the Betty Bus and the others we have chosen will benefit local people for many years to come.”
Wessex Cancer Trust chief executive Cait Allen, said: “We are so grateful to Steve, to DCCF and of course Betty Hyams for helping to make this project a reality.
“The Betty Hyams award has not only paid for the transformation of a former mobile home into the Betty Bus, it will also pay for its first year’s running costs.
“The Betty Bus will provide a peaceful and welcoming haven for cancer sufferers, close to home and away from the clinical surroundings of hospitals.”
The vehicle will initially visit Poundbury, Wareham and Shaftesbury on a weekly basis, starting in January 2017.
People will be able to drop in without an appointment anytime between 10am – 4pm when the Betty Bus is in their area.
You can keep up to date with Betty and her whereabouts by following @wessexcancer or visiting: wessexcancer.org/bettybus
Steve Blonstein also visited Bournemouth Hospital Charity which has received a Betty Hyams Award to help build a therapeutic garden for patients.
Lewis-Manning Hospice in Poole has also received two Betty Hyams awards including £18,500 towards a treatment room where day patients can receive medication they need through the night.
Steve Blonstein’s aunt, Betty Hyams passed away in 2013 at the age of 86, leaving Steve and his sister Anne as the beneficiaries of her will.
Ms Hyams stated that should either of her beneficiaries pass away from cancer prior to her, their share should be awarded to a cancer-based charity.
As Anne had already passed away from cancer, and because Steve has such fond memories of his childhood in Wimborne and Dorchester, he wanted it to help people in Dorset.
Steve 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.
For more information about DCCF visit: www.dccf.co.uk
For more information on this story please contact Debbie Granville at Deep South Media on: 07884 657782 or email: email@example.com