The Papers


Mary in the Northumberland Gazette

Many of us like a flutter every now and then, be it the national lottery, football, or horse racing.

As ever, it’s best done in moderation in case we go to the dogs, so to speak.

We’ve all read or know the stories of those who become dangerously addicted and go on to lose their minds, their jobs, their homes, even their families.

Parts of the gambling industry were once happy to coin in the profits through Fixed Odds Betting Terminals that were rightly described as the crack cocaine of gambling.

So it was good to be invited to see the amusement games shop on the High Street in Wallsend.

They told me that they stand for safe and responsible gaming. It’s only for adults, no alcohol is served or allowed, no loud music to get the pulses running, and bets are restricted to a maximum of £2, and in cash only. Credit and debit cards are common but can tempt people into foolish betting.

Gambling is what many do although it’s not particularly my cup of tea.

It’s always best that it is conducted safely.

There was another reason for visiting the shop. As a public representative, I need to see for myself the facilities on offer to my constituents.

I’m also interested in the future of the high street. It’s best it is varied and dynamic so that there is more footfall – people going to the high street for one thing and then exploring the other shops. This helps boost the livelihoods of shop owners and increases economic activity from which we all gain.

From what I’ve seen and heard on my visit, this local gaming centre says and does the right things in a safe and responsible manner.

Mary in the Journal

Cancers of so many different types haunt and prematurely end the lives of too many people. The scale is huge. One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetimes. Cancer sadly remains the leading cause of death amongst children and young people.

So many families are devastated. Look around you and you will see the damage cancer wreaks day in and day out, if you don’t already know it from personal and heart-breaking experience.

Two years ago, I lost my husband, Ray to cancer and that makes me even more determined as a public representative to help boost the quest for cures and for treatments to prolong lives.

I feel cautiously confident that we can one day crack cancer but it’s a tough job that requires imagination, innovation, and investment.
Just imagine how cures and improved treatments would save and transform so many lives. They would also considerably strengthen our society and economy as well as saving the NHS billions.

These are the powerful reasons why we should never accept cancer as a tragic fact of life but instead invest more in ending the disease altogether as we have with other diseases such as polio and may yet do with malaria.

Of course, people also need to look after their own health through not smoking, eating healthier food, and taking more exercise but cancer is a fickle fiend that affects people who have done so.

I fully support Cancer Research UK, which is the largest charitable funder of cancer research in the world. It recently announced projects worth nearly £50 million over five years to deliver early phases of clinical research to generate new treatments for future generations.

This funding supports clinical trials into adult cancers at 17 adult Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres including Newcastle, which will receive nearly £3 million for trials of new treatments affecting cancer in adults and in children and young people.

Ray died from prostate cancer. One of the trials in this field is called Stampede, which tests combinations of treatments for prostate cancer with hormone therapy.

It’s recruited over 10,000 patients and has led to 29 changes in clinical practice across the world, directly influencing the treatment of people with prostate cancer. My husband was in the trial but it was sadly too late for him.

The trial’s main finding is that adding the abiraterone drug blocks the production of testosterone and can halve the risk of death in men diagnosed with high-risk prostate cancer. The researchers are in active discussions with NHS England about how best to implement this treatment.

Clinical research is vital but is under huge strain. A well-supported clinical research environment could change lives through innovative and revolutionary developments in how we treat cancer. It can also give hope to cancer patients whose treatments options may otherwise be limited.

The NHS is a unique resource which could better harness the inspirational power and impact of clinical research. However, more than a decade of underfunding means that NHS capacity to deliver clinical cancer research is woefully underpowered.

This problem pre-dates Covid although the resulting longer waiting lists have aggravated early detection of cancers and other life-threatening diseases.

With recent cancer waiting times some of the worst on record, NHS staff are increasingly overstretched and unable to find the time to conduct research. If this pattern continues, it will mean slower progress towards new and potentially life-saving treatments.

Expanding cancer research nationwide makes it accessible and inclusive. Cancer patients need more urgent and equitable opportunities to access new treatments.

Cancer Research UK clinical trials recruit over 25,000 patients every year on average. All power to their elbow. Let’s work together to better treat and then overcome cancer once and for all. Let’s do far more to create a world where cancer is a distant part of the human condition not ever-present for millions.