South West Wales

John Hartson at Maggie's Swansea cancer centre opening

Former footballer John Hartson has attended the opening of a cancer centre at Singleton Hospital, Swansea.

The retired Arsenal and Celtic striker, who has himself recovered from cancer, was guest of honour as the £3m building was officially opened on Friday.

It has been built after fundraising by cancer charity Maggie's with £1.5m from the Welsh government.

Hartson also thanked Wales manager Gary Speed's widow Louise for calling on football fans to support his charity.

On the day of Speed's funeral in his home area of Hawarden, Flintshire, Hartson said he was supporting the centre through his foundation as it would help thousands of patients.

He said: "I am incredibly touched by Louise's calls for people to back my charity. Gary was always very supportive of the foundation.

"He even played in a charity match to raise money for it on his own birthday as well as running the London marathon in aid of it. That's the kind of man he was.

"It means an awful lot, especially as some of the money from my foundation will go towards the Maggie's centre, which is a cause very close to my heart.

"I spoke with Gary's father Roger last night to say I could not make it to the funeral because I was opening the centre here today - but my thoughts are with him and his family and I will be attending the memorial service in February."

The centre, which gives care and support to cancer patients and their families, was opened by First Minister Carwyn Jones, Hartson, Japanese ambassador Keiichi Hayashi and the family of the late architect Kisho Kurokawa.

Maggie's has run an interim service in the city since 2006, and it is is one of 15 centres the charity has either up and running or planned.

'Lasting legacy'

The centre will offer support to people from across south west and mid Wales.

Maggie's chief executive Laura Lee said it had only been made possible thanks to the fundraising efforts of people in the region.

"The local community should be proud of the lasting legacy they have created for the thousands affected by the devastating consequences of cancer," she added.

Hartson, a Wales international who underwent emergency surgery in 2009 after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and his brain, said: "I know from my own personal experience what a devastating effect cancer can have on you, your family and friends.

"Staff at Maggie's interim centre at Singleton Hospital in Swansea helped me to find a way to live through and beyond cancer.

"I'm really delighted that we are now in a position to open this incredible new Maggie's centre which will help thousands of people in Wales who have been affected by this terrible disease."

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