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The Prince of Wales meets hypnotherapist Darren Marks

The Croydon Adversiser, Royal Appointment, Supplement Staff and patients at the South East Cancer Help Centre share their ideas on complementary medicine

For members of the South East Cancer Help Centre in Purley the Prince of Wales’ visit was almost as much a part of their therapy as the art classes, reflexology and relaxation sessions. The buzz of excitement and anticipations around the centre, part of the Tesco complex in Purley Cross, will have been repeated at countless visits by Royalty.

But for these people, the Prince was more than just a member of the Royal Family he was someone on their side, an advocate who could help raise precious funds. Greater recognition for complementary medicine has long been the aim of centre managers and the Prince has made no secret of his passion for the subject.

The significance of his visit to members, many of whom turned up to meet the Prince despite serious ill health, was summed up by Geraldine McCulloch.

Mrs McCulloch, from Selsdon, had the same day attended the funeral of her husband John, a centre member who died last week. She chatted with the Prince about hypnotherapy and meditation, treatments, which she said, had greatly helped her husband.

She said: “He would have been here. I am so pleased the Prince could come here out of all the places he could have chosen to go.

“It is so important to help raise the profile of the centre it is such a supportive service. The Prince seemed so interested and very caring.”

To whispers of “he is just like he is on TV” the Prince arrived around 4.45pm, apologised for being late and was introduced to officials including chairman Eve Lister, local minister John Greig and Tesco manager Ashley Austen.

The Prince soon found himself watching a demonstration of hypnotherapy by Darren Marks, who encouraged centre outreach co-ordinator and former breast cancer sufferer Bobbie Dahdi to “let every nerve muscle and fibre relax.” A cassette tape of relaxation techniques was gratefully accepted by the Prince afterwards.

After pausing for a cup of tea, served of course from best china, with bread and Tesco’s honey, the Royal visitor opted for a one-to-one chat with centre member Derek Buckley behind the closed doors of a reflexology room.

Mr Buckley, a British Airways captain suffering from stomach cancer, said afterwards: “The issue of complimentary medicine is clearly very important to him. He was talking about how is hoping to raise funds. He was totally at ease which was amazing after such a hectic day.”

Prince Charles is known to be a bit handy with a paintbrush and watercolours, so it was no surprise that he took great interest in a group taking part in an art class. Member Tino De Sousa said: “I asked if the Prince had much time to paint and he said he had some gaps between engagements.
“He said he was impressed by the standard of the work here. His visit will be a great morale boost for everyone here.”
Having made sure he had met everybody in the centre and shaken every hand that was offered, the Prince congratulated staff on their work, signed the guest book and headed off to his waiting car.
Mrs Mollett said: “Everyone is absolutely elated that he gave so much time and didn’t rush us. It is a great honour and also such a boost for our fund-raising, which is so important to keep the place running. Outreach co-ordinator Mrs Dahdi added: “I hope this visit will encourage consultants to take us more seriously and refer more cancer sufferers to the centre.”

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