Wendy holds milestone ball

Andy Burnham and Wendy Watson
Andy Burnham and Wendy Watson
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AN INSPIRATIONAL breast cancer survivor has marked 20 years of campaigning at an annual celebration event.

Two decades ago Wendy Watson of Over Haddon, became the first woman in the UK to have a pre-emptive double mastectomy to avoid the breast cancer which had stalked her family.

In 1996 she set up the Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline to help those worried about their family history.

On Saturday Wendy hosted a ball at Thornbridge Hall in Ashford to raise funds to keep the service running.

The event funded entirely by sponsorship donations and auction items, also marked 20 years since her operation.

Wendy said: “It was an excellent event.

“Everybody was just in awe about the amount we’ve managed to achieve on such a small budget.”

The ball included entertainment, a meal and raffles.

MP Andy Burnham, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, also attended.

He used the helpline when his wife was found to be carrying a gene dramatically increasing her risk of breast cancer.

Wendy said: “Andy Burnham said what an amazing job we had done with the helpline and for him personally. He said it was a remarkable achievement and the enormous part it had played in making the options available for people with hereditary breast cancer.”

She added: “When I had my operation little was known about the hereditary link. Nobody knew what it was but breakthroughs in genetic research proved the theory was correct.

“Saturday was a milestone for me and I had over 100 messages from all over the world.”

The full total has yet to be counted but the event raised around £8,000 for the charity.

julia.rodgerson@derbyshiretimes.co.uk