Forty years on: The Pat Seed Fund remembered

One of Garstang's best known residents, journalist Pat Seed, founded the Pat Seed Appeal which for many years became one of the best known charities in Britain.
One of Garstang's best known residents, journalist Pat Seed, founded the Pat Seed Appeal which for many years became one of the best known charities in Britain.

She was one in a million - and touched the hearts of the nation with her courage, determination and tenacity.

The fund which she founded 40 years ago this week has now raised around £10 million - and has helped thousands of cancer patients.

Former Pat Seed Appeal fund organiser Pauline Heaton from Catterall with Pat's granddaughter Emma Seed and David Walton (trustee),

Former Pat Seed Appeal fund organiser Pauline Heaton from Catterall with Pat's granddaughter Emma Seed and David Walton (trustee),

Pat Seed became a patient of Christie Hospital, Manchester, in Spring 1976. Specialists considered she would only live a few more months - she was to prove them wrong - and lived until another unforeseen blow in 1984.

While Pat was a cancer patient that she heard of the new technology, Computerised Axial Tomography (CAT) scanners.

But red tape rules meant that the hospital was not allowed to appeal for help in getting such equipment...something which annoyed Pat, who put her journalistic experience and contacts to the fore in sorting out the silly state of affairs.

With the help of North Fylde MP Sir Walter Clegg and Minister for Health, Roland Moyle, she was successful in lobbying for an amendment made to the 1948 Health Act, enabling hospitals to appeal for funds.

Pat Seed meeting Margaret Thatcher

Pat Seed meeting Margaret Thatcher

Although Pat had been told she could only expect to live six months she travelled all over the North West raising funds and awareness of the cause.

The initial aim was to raise £500,000 for a scanner. But that figure was soon raised to £1.75 million to provide a building to house the scanner and the running costs for 10 years.

Fundraising, some small-scale, some larger, began in earnest for the fund throughout the North West, then the nation. Schools and organisations throughout Garstang, Wyre and Lancashire backed the campaign.

Pat became a national celebrity, meeting royalty, gaining honorary awards and writing about her experiences. She was even the subject of a This is Your Life TV profile.

The cover of Pat Seed's book 'One Day at A Time'

The cover of Pat Seed's book 'One Day at A Time'

Within three years the CT scanner was up and running in the purpose-built Pat Seed Department at Christie.

But her life was to suffer another devastating blow. On May 23, 1984, her husband, Geoff, a senior NW Water Authority official, was giving a tour of Abbeystead waterworks north of Garstang to a party of villagers from St Michael’s-on-Wyre.

During the tour an explosion claimed the lives of 16 people, including Pat’s beloved Geoff. Pat died 10 week later, on August 2, 1984.

Pat’s friends led by appeal secretary Pauline Heaton from Catterall, vowed to continue the work their good friend had begun.

Pat Seed's granddaughter Emma Seed with Dr Prakash Manorharan (The Christie's consultant radiologist and nuclear medicine physician), one of the new scanning rooms

Pat Seed's granddaughter Emma Seed with Dr Prakash Manorharan (The Christie's consultant radiologist and nuclear medicine physician), one of the new scanning rooms

During the fund’s life around £10 million has been raised, with Christie Hospital benefiting from several hi-tech scanners and many pieces of technology.

The administration of the fund was taken over by Christie Hospital in 2008, formally merging with The Christie charity in 2010.

One of the most recent developments involving the use of remaining funds from the fund has been a new cutting edge MRI suite at The Christie costing £6.6 million. The suite was opened last September by Pat’s granddaughter, Emma, a medical photographer, who commented: “I never knew my grandmother - I was born after she died - but it’s brilliant to see her legacy living on at The Christie.”

At an earlier opening of equipment bought by the fund for The Christie senior consultant Dr Jeremy Lawrance said: “All this has been possible because of the generous support of a great number of people, including many in Garstang and district which took the Pat Seed to its heart.”

The Pat Seed Fund may have been subsumed within the work of The Christie, but it will be remembered by the thousands locally who contributed to it, as well as by the many others who have and continue to benefit from its vital contribution to cancer concerns today.

* Among the most loyal Pat Seed campaigners have been Robert Mason from Bilsborrow and his late wife Eileen, who over the years have held fundraising stalls at various local markets.