A KIND-HEARTED volunteer was given a prestigious award from a national cancer charity for using his personal experience to help others.

Abingdon resident Stephen Crothers was praised for becoming a ‘community champion’ by Macmillan Cancer Support.

The 60-year-old discovered the charity’s web portal after caring for his wife while she was undergoing treatment for cancer.

He reached out for help when he was signed off from work with stress, having realised he was putting too much pressure on himself to cope with her rare illness.

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But instead of finding solutions for himself, Mr Crothers soon started using his experience to help others, and was invited to become a 'super-user'.

He is now part of a group of 20 ‘community champions’ spread across the UK who shared the award and have been recognised for the invaluable support they have provided online to others.

After training provided by Macmillan Mr Crothers is now considered a specialist in the areas of the site dedicated to caring, soft-tissue sarcomas and family and friends.

He said: “The training Macmillan has provided has been fantastic in allowing me to take what could be a very negative life experience in to something positive and has helped me and my wife to get to a position of living with cancer.

“Although pretty much everyone will be affected by cancer in one way or another, most people are still reluctant to talk about it and often seem to worry they might say the wrong thing.

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“But the community allows people with a real shared experience to contact each other and can help to remove the loneliness that many people feel and share the load on the bad days.”

The site runs around-the-clock and it currently has 180,000 registered members.

During the pandemic it has been receiving over 1,000 new registrations each month.

Mr Crothers remembered that the very first time one of his posts got a ‘like’ it was ‘heart-warming’.

He added: “So to get the Vicky Clement Jones award is a marvellous recognition of the work we have been putting in and the reach our work has made.”

The online community can be found at community.macmillan.org.uk