Our story - Maggie's Centres

Our story

Our founder Maggie Keswick Jencks used her own experience of having cancer to create a new type of cancer care. The first Maggie's opened in Edinburgh in 1996, and we now have a network of centres across the UK and some abroad.

Who was Maggie?

Maggie was a writer, gardener and designer. When she was 47, Maggie was diagnosed with breast cancer and five years later, in May 1993, on a visit to the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, she was told that it had returned.

After hearing this, Maggie and her husband Charles Jencks were moved to a windowless corridor where they were left to process the news. They discussed the need for somewhere 'better' for people with cancer to go, outside of but nearby to the hospital.

Maggie and Charles designed the blueprint for the centres together, enlisting the help of some of their friends from the arhictectural world. The first Maggie's opened in Edinburgh in 1996, and we now have centres across the UK and even some abroad.

Read more about Maggie and Charles, our founders


Above all what matters is not to lose the joy of living in the fear of dying.

Maggie’s idea

Maggie felt that her diagnosis and treatment was as hard on her family as it was on her, so she created a new type of support, a centre that could make the experience of cancer more manageable for everyone.

She believed that with encouragement to become actively involved in treatment, and with the right information and support, people could change the way they live with cancer.

Maggie also wanted to bring people together in a calm and friendly space that would help them to find comfort in the experiences of others.

Maggie died shortly before the first centre opened, at the Western General Hospital – but with the support of Charles, and her medical team, including her cancer nurse Laura Lee (now Maggie’s CEO), her vision has lived on.


Growing our support

Maggie's has now grown into a network of centres built beside NHS hospitals across the UK.

Our centres help people to take back control when cancer turns life upside down, with professional support for anything from treatment side effects to money worries.

We also have centres abroad and plan to extend our support to have 30 centres open in the UK by 2022.

Our timeline

  • 1988 – Maggie is first diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • 1993 – Maggie’s breast cancer returns.
  • 1994 – Maggie writes ‘A view from the front line’ (a publication about her experience).
  • 1994 – Maggie and her oncology nurse Laura Lee develop early plans for a ‘Cancer Caring Centre'.
  • 1995 – Architect Richard Murphy produces a plan to convert a stable building at Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.
  • 1995 – On 8 July, Maggie dies. The blueprints for what would become the very first Maggie’s centre were on her hospital bed.
  • 1996 – Maggie’s Edinburgh opens.
  • 2000 – An extension to Maggie's Edinburgh is opened.
  • 2002 – Maggie’s Glasgow opens.
  • 2003 – Maggie’s Dundee opens.
  • 2005 – Maggie’s Highlands opens.
  • 2006 – Maggie’s Fife opens.
  • 2008 – Maggie’s West London opens.
  • 2010 – Maggie’s Cheltenham opens.
  • 2011 – Maggie’s Glasgow Gartnavel, Maggie’s Nottingham and Maggie’s Swansea open.
  • 2012 – Maggie’s Cambridge (interim) opens, formed following a merger with Wallace Cancer Care.
  • 2013 – Maggie’s Newcastle, Maggie’s Aberdeen and Maggie’s Hong Kong open.
  • 2014 - Maggie’s Lanarkshire, Maggie's Oxford and Maggie’s Merseyside (interim) open.
  • 2016 – Maggie’s Manchester, Maggie’s Tokyo and Maggie’s at the Royal Free (interim) open. The centre at the Royal Free is formed following a merger with the Cancerkin charity.
  • 2017 – Maggie’s Forth Valley, Maggie’s Oldham and Maggie’s Barts open.
  • 2017 – Maggie's merges with online charity Ellie's Friends.
  • 2018 – Maggie's Edinburgh second extension opens.
  • 2019 – Maggie’s Cardiff and Kálida Barcelona open.
  • 2019 – Laura Lee awarded DBE.
  • 2019 – Maggie's new online community is launched.
  • 2020 – Maggie’s Leeds and Maggie’s at the Royal Marsden officially open.

Centres in development

  • Maggie’s Southampton
  • Maggie’s Northampton
  • Maggie’s Taunton
  • Maggie's Coventry
  • Maggie’s Norway 
  • Maggie’s Netherlands
  • Maggie's Bristol
  • Maggie's Preston.

A view from the front line

A view from the front line is Maggie's manifesto which outlines her idea for a new type of cancer care.


A view from the front line

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To find your nearest Maggie's centre, enter your postcode or town below.

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