Cancer Focus NI scores a public health first

Cancer Focus Northern Ireland is the first local charity to receive recognition for its excellent achievements at the prestigious Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) annual awards.

A total of 26 organisations from across the UK were presented with awards for their work in health and wellbeing – but Cancer Focus NI is the first Northern Ireland organisation to be honoured in the award’s eight year history.

Cancer Focus NI received its award for best practice in its wide-ranging work in cancer prevention and care services, particularly the Well Aware service, which brings health checks to older people in the community and raises awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease.

The Well Aware team has visited thousands of residents at sheltered accommodation and community venues all over Northern Ireland.

Dervilia Kernaghan, Cancer Focus NI

Dervilia Kernaghan

Dervilia Kernaghan, Cancer Focus NI Well Aware Project Coordinator, said: “We are delighted to have been recognised by the RSPH. As we grow older our risk of cancer increases with around 75% of diagnoses in the over 60s. Because of this, Cancer Focus NI felt it was vitally important to offer health improvement services targeting this age group.

“Our aim is to empower older people to take control of their own health and to feel confident enough to speak to a doctor if they have any concerns. We’re delighted with the positive response we’ve had since the project started two years ago. It’s obvious we are filling a need among some of the most vulnerable in our society.”

She added: “Our key messages to everyone, regardless of age, are don’t smoke, eat a healthy diet, limit alcohol, exercise regularly, take care in the sun and take up cancer screening when invited.”

Shirley Cramer, CEO of RSPH, said: “The RSPH has a long history of promoting good practice in public health and we are proud of our Health and Wellbeing Awards, which provide a stage to celebrate the great work of organisations regardless of their sector, size and setting.

“It was an extremely competitive field this year and I would like to congratulate our 2015 winners who are all exemplars of innovative, progressive programmes to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. I hope that their effective programmes will be adopted and celebrated elsewhere.”

Bill Jeffrey and Rita Murray stress the importance of healthy eating and exercise for the over 60s

Bill Jeffrey and Rita Murray stress the importance of healthy eating and exercise for the over 60s

There were entries from local authorities, health organisations, education providers, social enterprises, voluntary/charity organisations and private sector organisations all over the UK.

Well Aware is a partnership between Cancer Focus NI and Choice Housing and is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

For more information or to arrange a Well Aware visit, email or call 028 9068 0743.



To book the Cancer Focus NI Keeping Well health check van for your workplace or organisation, call 028 9066 3281 or email

If you have any concerns about cancer call the free, local Cancer Focus NI helpline on 0800 783 3339.