Wednesday 01 Dec 2021
TV star Lorraine Kelly and photographer Koo Stark came together for Maggie’s and its newest Ambassador, Derek Francis, at a special photo shoot at Maggie’s Barts.
A special photo shoot marks Ambassador title for man living with advanced cancer.
Derek, 53, who lives in York but is originally from Whitburn, Scotland, was told he only had two years to live just before the coronavirus pandemic struck in 2020.
Ever since visiting Maggie’s Yorkshire in Leeds, and interviewing Chief Executive, Dame Laura Lee for his online radio show, Derek has dedicated the time he has left to raising funds and awareness of the free practical and psychological support Maggie’s offers people living with cancer, as well as family and friends.
He came to London to be photographed with Lorraine Kelly by Koo Stark, both of whom gave their time in support of Derek and Maggie’s.
Derek said: I am so proud to be a Maggie’s Ambassador, and to be able to mark the moment with a photo shoot in the beautiful, warm and welcoming space of a Maggie’s centre was really special.
I was so touched at Koo’s generosity and talent and Lorraine was so kind, she even gave me her coat to take home as I was feeling the cold.
Koo, who was introduced to Derek by mutual friend Katie Keely who thought speaking to Koo, with her own cancer experience, might be of help, was delighted to be able to help Derek mark his Ambassadorship.
She said: I was delighted to be able to photograph Derek at the beautiful Maggie’s centre at Barts, to spoil him a little and give him a bit of the spotlight at such a difficult time.
He has my eternal admiration and respect for the way he has coped with his diagnosis so I was very touched to be part of his day. He will be a wonderful ambassador for an incredible charity offering such important support.
TV presenter Lorraine Kelly has become friends with Derek since she too appeared on his online radio show, The Sunday Show on Incapable Staircase.
She said: Derek has really touched my heart since I first met him. We have become great pals over the last year and I we have had some great chats. He is always full of fun and life even while coping with his cancer and treatment. When he asked if I would come along and get my photo taken with him to mark his becoming an Ambassador for Maggie’s I really couldn’t say no – for Derek but also because I know how crucial Maggie’s support is.
We really did have a wonderful day.
Derek was first diagnosed for cancer in 2019.
It returned at the start of 2020 which is when doctors said they only expected him to live for two years. He is currently undergoing treatment to slow the spread.
He says the first year of that has been lost to loneliness during the pandemic, but an opportunity to host a radio show has given him something positive to focus on - especially when he got the chance to live out a dream by interviewing Lorraine Kelly.
Derek, who lives with his beloved dog Milo, said: Lockdown has been an incredibly lonely time, I had just been told I had two years left to live just before the pandemic struck and then it was just me and Milo. It is really tough just watching the clock tick away.
When I got the chance to host the radio show, I just had a strong urge to use whatever time I have left to spread happiness, to overcome loneliness, to raise awareness of living with cancer, to help promote Maggie’s and to leave a legacy.
Our Chief Executive Dame Laura Lee also spent time with Derek, Lorraine and Koo on the day.
She said: The word inspirational is overused but Derek’s endless laughter, joy and determination to help others despite his prognosis really are inspiring.
I am delighted he’s agreed to be our Ambassador and am very grateful to Koo and Lorraine for giving their time to make it such a special day.
Since Maggie’s opened their first centre in 1996, the charity has developed a programme of support that is proven to help people with cancer and their loved ones take back control.
Maggie’s relies almost entirely on voluntary donations to be able to offer this high quality, professional support.
We're incredibly grateful to everyone who supports us and go on to become our Ambassadors.
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