Keyhole Cancer Appeal

We are proud to confirm that the Keyhole Cancer Appeal has raised over £500,000 for the provision of a new state-of-the-art laparoscopic (keyhole surgery) theatre suite at Southend University Hospital which opened in October 2017.

The money raised has enabled surgeons to perform the latest and most complex keyhole procedures for patients undergoing cancer and general surgery. At the heart of the new theatre is some of the most advanced camera systems in Europe, which deliver extremely high quality 3D images.

Colin George Laparoscopic Theatre Suite, Southend University Hospital, October 2017

Hundreds of Southend patients are likely to benefit each year.  They include people suffering with bowel and prostate cancer or gynaecological conditions.  Many of these patients would have previously had to have ‘open’ surgery’ which would have meant longer hospital stays and recovery times and greater post-operative pain and scarring.

For the first time all the systems in the operating theatre are under the central control of touch panels and the new equipment is free of pipes, tubes and wiring.  We are also able to bring digital x-rays and body scans to the screens and to record or film the operation for the benefit of patient records. It also means the surgeon can use the two-way video conferencing function to dramatically enhance the teaching process.

Family of the late Colin George with Chief Executive Clare Panniker, Southend University Hospital, October 2017

It’s very fitting then that the centre has been officially titled the ‘Colin George Laparoscopic Theatre’, after former Trustee of the Charitable Foundation Colin George, who sadly passed away aged 77 in July 2015. A huge local figure for good who helped raise millions for the hospital and launched the Keyhole Cancer Appeal for this theatre back in 2014.

His wife, Pamela, from Hadleigh, and their children, Stephen, from Southend, and Christine, from St Albans, were there to officially open the theatre and unveil a plaque to commemorate the event.

Pamela said: “Colin would have been delighted at seeing this theatre completed, it looks wonderful. He would have been truly honoured to have seen it named after him for all he did for the hospital, and that he was so highly regarded. We are immensely proud of him and although it is a hugely emotional day of both sadness and joy, we couldn’t be happier to have this Laparoscopic theatre named after Colin as a fitting and lasting legacy.”


Mick Thwaites, who took over Colin’s role, said: “We launched the Keyhole Cancer Appeal in 2014 with the Around the World in 80 Days cycle challenge which raised over £30,000 and gave us a wonderful kick-start to the Appeal. Thank you also to the cyclists who formed part of our Ride100 charity team and successfully cycled 100 miles from Surrey to London. And of course not forgetting those who bared all for the naked rollercoaster fundraiser at Adventure Island in 2015, who raised £20,000.

“So many of our supporters have gone to extraordinary lengths over the last few years to help us reach our target. From skydives and abseils to quiz nights, fairs and dinner dances. We are grateful to all of the individuals who have taken on personal challenges and the local groups such as the Rotary Clubs of Thorpe Bay, Leigh-on-Sea and Westcliff, who have held fundraising events on our behalf. It has all led to this amazing theatre, something we could not have done without the local community.”

Surgical team with Charitable Foundation Chair and Deputy Chair, Colin George Laparoscopic Theatre Suite, Southend University Hospital, October 2017