'In no way is it gloomy and despondent, it's very upbeat and full of hope.' So Professor Ray Donnelly describes the annual Pause for Hope service for people living with cancer and their families which takes place this year at the Metropolitan Cathedral on Sunday 28 October (3pm).
This year's event holds particular significance as the 20th since Professor Donnelly, founder and president of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, established Pause for Hope. Reflecting on this milestone, he said: 'The first service was held in St Francis Xavier's church in 1999 and the church was packed so the following year we moved to the cathedral and since then we've had the service in one or other of the main cathedrals in Liverpool.
'We've had some wonderful speakers,' he added. 'Fiona Castle spoke at the very first service 20 years ago and she'll be speaking again. The recently retired Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, Lorna Muirhead, will also be speaking.'
It is a service that brings together not only those affected directly by cancer but also doctors, nurses and cancer charities. 'We now have services in England, Scotland and Wales,' continued Professor Donnelly. 'It's growing so extensively we've appointed someone who can work on developing it further on a national scale.' That person is Kate Strickland, who was scheduled to begin her work this month from the Roy Castle Foundation offices in Liverpool.
Bishop Tom Williams and the Anglican rector of Liverpool, Crispin Pailing, will lead this year's service and Professor Donnelly went on: 'There are no tickets required and anyone who's been affected by cancer in any way is very welcome. The service consists of prayers and music and reflections. It obviously meets a need that people have when they're faced with cancer, either themselves or in their family, regarding how to face up to the challenges that cancer brings by bringing God into the equation with prayer and seeing their life as God sees it. We also pray for the doctors and nurses, the people who have to manage resources, and for the scientists searching for the cure.'
For more information, visit www.pauseforhope.org, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org