IF everyone in Swindon donated just £1 this month, the town could smash Brighter Futures’ Christmas target.

The hospital charity wants to raise £2 million by Christmas Day… and we’re calling on you today to help them.

Fundraisers need £2.9m overall to kit out a new cancer-fighting radiotherapy centre, preventing some of Swindon’s sickest patients from making the 70-mile round trip to Oxford for treatment.

Thousands have run, skydived, cycled and donated to Brighter Futures, helping the radiotherapy appeal reach £1.9m so far.

Now, the Adver is joining forces with the Great Western Hospital fundraisers to push for the radiotherapy appeal to hit its Christmas target.

We are calling on our readers to donate £1 to Brighter Futures, by texting SWIN01 £1 to 70070. Texts are free for Vodafone customers, while those on other networks pay their normal text charge. Of course, you can also donate higher amounts by sending the text SWIN01 £5 or SWIN01 £10 to the same number.

Catherine Newman, head of fundraising at Brighter Futures, said: “It would be incredible if people in the town could give what they can.

"Reaching the £2million would be a fantastic Christmas present for the local area.”

On reaching the target, Catherine added: “I’m nervous, but excited. Christmas has just come around so quickly.

“Last month was the busiest November we’ve ever had. Every single weekend we were working. We’ve got to December and we’ve got a matter of two-and-a-half weeks until the end of the year.”

Since starting the year at £1.3million, the Brighter Futures team has seen a huge increase in interest from the people of Swindon.

Thousands have raised cash for the charity this year, pedalling their way to the success in the Ride for Radiotherapy, running the New Swindon Half Marathon – and one Elcombe lad driving to Mongolia in a battered Suzuki Wagon.

Last weekend, 700 runners took part in the annual Reindeer Run – all padding the 5k around Coate Water with antlers strapped to their heads.

Catherine said: “The response to the appeal has been overwhelming.

“Every time the postman comes to the door to deliver the mail he has a smile on his face as he hands over the donation forms. We all want to open them.

“We hope this £1 appeal will get us over the line.

“We’re nervously excited. It’s now in Swindon’s hands.”

Staff at the hospital say that hundreds of people will stand to gain from a new radiotherapy centre in Swindon.

“We know that 284 people a month get that devastating cancer diagnosis," said Catherine.

“The figures are quite staggering. They say one in four people are diagnosed with cancer. We all know somebody who has been affected by it – whether it’s someone in our family or on our streets.”

Cancer is a cause close to Catherine’s own heart.

In 1999 she lost both her grandfathers to cancer in the space of just four months – one to lung cancer and the other to prostate to cancer.

Then, 14 years later, her father lost his battle with bladder and kidney cancer, after a fight that lasted three years.

“I’m sick of cancer taking away the people I love,” said Catherine.

“It makes me even more determined to fight it myself and see the centre built for everyone who’s going through what I have done.”

She said that hearing people’s personal stories of cancer could be the most moving part of her role.

In one family, a mother and her two daughters had been given cancer diagnoses, Catherine said.

She added: “It’s awful when you have so many members of the family affected by it.

“As a mum, cancer is the last thing you want to see your daughter go through. It’s heart-breaking. As a parent, all you want to do is protect your daughter.”

The family are backing the Brighter Futures campaign, donating what they can to the radiotherapy appeal. Catherine said: “They’re determined to help others.”

Those “others” include people like Sandra McGlone, 50, of Taw Hill, who in August made a 15,000 foot skydive over Wiltshire. The mum found a lump in the run up to Christmas. She said: “I had to go through Christmas not knowing if it would be my last.”

Ana Kelly, 51, of Old Town, went through excruciating radiotherapy treatment in Oxford. She said: “I’m under no illusion that the cancer can come back. I just think it’s important to live life to the full.”

Michelle Tompkins, deputy editor of the Adver, said: “The Brighter Futures appeal is something the people of Swindon have really taken to the hearts, and we have been following its progress closely over the weeks and months, reporting on the amazing things people are doing to boost the funds.

"Imagine how fantastic it would be to read that the appeal has reached the £2m mark for Christmas – it would put a smile on everyone’s faces to know we have reached such a massive milestone.

“So come on Swindon, show us your money. Make that £1 donation and do it TODAY.”

To donate £1 to the Brighter Futures radiotherapy appeal, text SWIN01 £1 to 70070. If you’d like to donate more send the text SWIN01 £5 or SWIN01 £10 to the same number. Texts are free for Vodafone customers. Those on other networks pay their normal text charge.