BUSINESSES in Bishop Auckland are celebrating after raising more than £2,500 for cancer charities.

In bid to improve the take up rate for free cancer screening services, Durham County Councillor for Bishop Auckland Town, Joy Allen approached several businesses to help raise awareness of the disease.

Participating businesses in the consortium raised £2,650 for cancer charities and donations are still coming in following a cancer march last month that Cllr Allen organised following her own father's death from prostate cancer. The businesses each chose a different cancer charity to support.

Cllr Allen said: "From personal experience I know how important it is to get diagnosed early as it can help prevent the spread of secondary cancer and most importantly save lives.

"The purpose of screening is to test apparently healthy people for any signs of disease, before they develop symptoms. I was shocked to learn that the cervical screening rate has dropped to a 21-year low and Bishop Auckland is in the bottom ten for the take-up of free screening services.

"Nationally, more than one million haven’t attended their smear in the last five years. It takes five minutes to take the test, we recommend speaking to your practise nurse to book an appointment if this is you.

"Fund raising is a vital element to improving the life chances of those diagnosed with cancer as it helps fund research that can find new treatments for the various cancers.

She added: "I have been absolutely staggered by how much the businesses have been able to raise with the generosity of their customers in such a short space of time."

"It has been a really uplifting experience and one I hope to build on in the coming months as we continue with our campaign to become a healthy town by ‘Kicking Cancer Out of Town’."

To get involved contact or call 03000-268672