Former British Rail worker from Doncaster raises money for hospice after receiving the all-clear of prostate cancer

Former British Rail worker Paul Gilligan has raised £915 for Doncaster’s St John's Hospice after being given “a second chance in life”.

Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 11:36 am

A health scare earlier this year prompted Paul, aged 67, to hit on the idea of producing a fundraising lapel badge to celebrate the ‘Plantpots’ – the former employees of Doncaster’s Plant Works, which operated from 1853 until 2004 and was the birthplace of the world-famous Flying Scotsman and record-breaking Mallard locomotives.

Paul, of Armthorpe, said: “After feeling unwell for some time, I was told there was a problem following my annual diabetes health check in May this year and a second blood test revealed I had prostate cancer. Fortunately, it had not spread and after an operation in August, I was given the all-clear in September.

“I felt that I had been given a second chance in life and wanted to raise some money for those who were not so lucky and as a former Balby lad, St John's Hospice was the perfect choice. I thought a lapel badge was sure to go down well and after sharing the design on Facebook, it was clear that such a badge would be popular.

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Cancer survivor Paul Gilligan with his badge

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“I sold 100 within 24 hours of the badges being available. Subsequent orders have followed from Plantpots living as far away as Canada, Spain, the Irish Republic and New Zealand, with many people buying them in memory of relatives who worked there,” added Paul, who started at the Hexthorpe works in 1969 as a coach body builder and repairer and left 26 years later.

The badges, which feature a sunflower in a plant pot surrounded by the Plant’s name and year it opened, can be purchased for a minimum donation of £5, although many buyers have contributed more.

Badge sales are being handled by St John’s fundraiser Lindsey Richards, from Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, who is also a former Plantpot, as is her husband John.

The Doncaster Plant Works badge

Lindsey said: “We are grateful to Paul for coming up with such a brilliant fundraising idea. The badges have sold really well but we still have a few left and if anyone would like one, please ring our office on 01302 796662/798391 or e-mail [email protected].”

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Paul hands over the proceeds to St John's Hospice