Renee Cluff

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Vision of late community leader realised as COUCH Cancer Wellness Centre officially opens

A $3-million facility to support the health and well-being of people affected by cancer has officially opened in Cairns today.

The COUCH Wellness Centre at Manoora was the vision of late tourism pioneer and health advocate Charles Woodward, who lost his own battle against cancer in 2017.

COUCH Chairman Ron Holden said today’s official opening was an emotional occasion.

“Every one of us has been affected by cancer in one way or another, and Charlie’s vision was for everyone in Far North Queensland to have the same level of access to high-quality cancer care and support as those residing in capital cities.

“The opening of the COUCH Wellness Centre is another major step forward in achieving that vision after COUCH’s lead role in the foundation of the Liz Plummer Cancer Centre at Cairns Hospital,” he said.

The Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch unveiled a memorial plaque, while Mr Woodward’s wife, COUCH co-founder and board member Pip Woodward cut the ribbon to officially open the facility.

Other board members, Cairns Mayor Bob Manning, volunteers, donors and staff were also on hand to celebrate the occasion.

The centre, 13 years in the making, is set on a rainforest acreage in suburban Manoora which was donated by the Woodward family.

It will provide local residents and their families access to holistic support, advice and services to complement their cancer treatment.

Today’s milestone event is the culmination of tireless campaigning, fundraising and generous support from the community and businesses, including funding from the Federal Government and Freemasons Queensland charity Hand Heart Pocket.

Leichhardt MP Warren Etnsch said the federal government had also announced a $1.3 million investment to facilitate the second stage development of the COUCH Wellness Centre.

“The new centre will provide the best tools and advice that patients and their families might need to navigate their diagnosis, maintain their health and encourage well-being during all phases of cancer care.”

“This is really just the start of what’s happening here.

"The next phase of COUCH, which is of course the acquisition of the balance of this beautiful land is now being confirmed and secured and at the same time we’ve the PHN (Primary Health Network) confirming that it will be assisting in providing longer-term assistance for operations."