Purple Penny Brohn 40th anniversary logo

We’re excited to be celebrating our 40th anniversary throughout 2020, and to mark the occasion we are taking a look back at all the amazing things that have happened over the last 40 years to bring us to where we are now. 

Our story began in 1979 when our founder, Penny Brohn, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Penny, who grew up in Bristol, knew instinctively that she needed more than just care and treatment for her body.  She recognised that she needed to care equally for her, “mind, spirit, emotions, heart and soul”. With her close friend Pat Pilkington, she set out to find what she was looking for.

“Care for the mind, spirit, emotions, heart and soul.”
– Penny Brohn, Founder of the Bristol Cancer Help Centre (now Penny Brohn UK)

What happened next?

1980
Bristol Cancer Help Centre

Bristol Cancer Help Centre

Pat and her husband Christopher were already running a Healing Centre in Bristol and in 1980, together with Penny and a group of volunteers, opened their doors to cancer patients. Soon afterwards, with the arrival of the Centre’s first Medical..Read more

1983

HRH officially opens Grove House

On July 15 1983, with much media attention, HRH The Prince of Wales opened the Bristol Cancer Help Centre (now Penny Brohn UK) in its new home, Grove House in Clifton.  

1986
Photo of Gentle Giants book cover with yellow background

Gentle Giants

In 1986, Penny Brohn published her book, Gentle Giants, written about her experience of living with breast cancer. By the summer of 1986, the Centre had grown out of all proportion and was helping more people than they had ever..Read more

1990

Challenging times

In 1990 a flawed research study involving patients who had attended the Centre was published, but is later found to be faulty. The women involved in the study campaigned to change the way medical research is conducted in the UK..Read more

1990
Medicine Reintegrated

Medicine Reintegrated

In 1990, we held our ‘Medicine Reintegrated’ Conference to mark the tenth anniversary of the Centre. We fast became an authority on integrative approaches to cancer care, working alongside medical cancer specialists both in the UK and around the world...Read more

1995
A beacon of light

A beacon of light

Our 15th Anniversary Conference brought together researchers from around the world who presented scientific evidence validating our work. The Centre was mentioned in debates at the House of Parliament and described as a “beacon of light for cancer care”. Our..Read more

1997
A new Patron

A new Patron

Prince Charles became Patron of the charity in 1997 after having officially opened the centre in Clifton in 1983. He has since worked on several important projects with the charity and continues to be an active Patron to this day.

1999
Penny Brohn dies

Penny Brohn dies

Penny Brohn passed away on February 3 1999, having lived with cancer for 20 years. Even towards the end of her life she remained physically active, cycling with her family in France. Her legacy continues in the work that we..Read more

2000

Walk the Walk

In 2000, we were chosen as a beneficiary of Walk the Walk, a grant-making breast cancer charity and organisers of the famous MoonWalk. This was the beginning of an incredible relationship of support. Walk the Walk has been helping us..Read more

2003
Pat is awarded an MBE

Pat is awarded an MBE

In 2003, Pat Pilkington was awarded an MBE in recognition of her work. In the same year, the charity also won a Healthcare and Medical Research award for its evaluation work in measuring the effectiveness of our approach.

2005

Our 25th birthday!

By this time our helpline had answered 150,000 calls, 20,000 people had attended our residential courses and hundreds of health professionals had been trained in our approach.

2007

Relocation and rebrand

In 2006, we moved to our current home, a grade ll-listed former isolation hospital set in four acres of beautifully-maintained gardens on the outskirts of Bristol. Following a huge redevelopment project and a year at the new building, the charity..Read more

2012
Living Well programme launch

Living Well programme launch

We launched our National Living Well programme at the House of Commons in 2012, running our first ever regional Living Well course. Following this, a research study carried out at the University of Westminster showed the difference that the Living..Read more

2012

First Living Well course

In 2012, we expanded to offer our Living Well services in locations throughout the country, determined to reach as many people as possible with our life-affirming message. We ran our first ever Living Well course at our National Centre in response to..Read more

2013

Treatment Support

In 2013, we set up our Treatment Support Clinic in association with the Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre and were awarded a Department of Health grant to fund Living Well services nationally. We also formed a partnership with Cancer Partners..Read more

2013

Partnership struck with GenesisCare

In 2013 we partnered with GenesisCare UK, a private healthcare company. We now deliver complementary treatment support for patients undergoing chemo and radiotherapy at several of their centres across the UK. Following a holistic needs assessment, all their patients are..Read more

2013

Goodbye Pat

On August 19 2013 our co-founder Pat Pilkington died of cancer at the age of 83. Pat continued to be actively involved with the charity as a Trustee, visiting the Centre to give talks to clients, inspiring all who met..Read more

2014
Celebrity Ambassadors

Celebrity Ambassadors

In 2014, actress Suranne Jones became our first Celebrity Ambassador. She attended a lunch hosted by Prince Charles at Clarence House. She was to be later joined in her Ambassador role by writer, producer and campaigner, Tara Arkle and talent..Read more

2015
Healthy Eating Guidelines

Healthy Eating Guidelines

In 2015, our healthy eating guidelines were re-published and subsequently recognised as a benchmark for healthcare professionals.

2015
Photo of three purple Golden Thread books

The Golden Thread

In April 2015, we hosted the launch of Pat Pilkington’s memoirs, “The Golden Thread”. You can buy a copy of her book at www.pennybrohn.org.uk/shop.

2015
BBC Radio 4 Appeal

BBC Radio 4 Appeal

In 2015, Maureen Lipman and Mike Harris, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 31, ran a very successful BBC Radio 4 fundraising appeal.

2016

Dumfries House Wellbeing Centre Developed

Nestled in a far corner on the perimeter of the Dumfries House Estate, a new dedicated site for The Prince’s Foundation’s GP and patient-led wellbeing services has been developed. In 2016, the decision was made to create a space to..Read more

2016

Launching Jackie Collins’ Inspirational Woman Award

On September 19 2015, we were deeply saddened to hear that popular, acclaimed author Jackie Collins OBE passed away from breast cancer. Jackie had been diagnosed in 2009 and we understand and respect her choice to keep it a secret...Read more

2016
Prince Charles visits our National Centre

Prince Charles visits our National Centre

On July 26 2016, HRH The Prince of Wales visited our National Centre and garden; meeting staff, volunteers and those who have been helped by the charity. Before leaving the centre, The Prince planted a tree to mark the visit,..Read more

2017

10 years of our National Centre celebration

Celebrating 10 years at our National Centre was a huge landmark for us. We moved to the centre in 2007, after a year of renovation and the move was only made possible by a generous grant from MoonWalk charity, Walk..Read more

2017
University Hospitals Bristol logo

Penny Brohn UK moves into BHOC

In 2017, we employed a Health Care Engagement and Community Development Lead to be based at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre. We are now able to speak with patients of BHOC, introducing and referring them to Penny Brohn services and..Read more

2017

Stomp launched!

On Saturday, September 23 2017, we launched our first Stomp for Cancer event. The walk saw people of all ages and abilities head from Millennium Square at 10am, under Brunel’s iconic suspension bridge and along the Avon Gorge to our..Read more

2018
Because I need more than medicine

Because I need more than medicine

This campaign was launched at the beginning of 2018 to focus on the need for an integrative (whole person) approach to cancer care. The ‘Because I need more than medicine‘ strap line has since been used in the charity’s general..Read more

2019
Stephen Rosser becomes Chair of Trustees

Stephen Rosser becomes Chair of Trustees

In May 2019, Penny Brohn UK announced the appointment of Stephen Rosser as its new Chair of the Board of Trustees after Francesca Barnes stepped down as Chair after 12 years in the role. The CEO of Clark Willmott LLP..Read more

2019

Reconnect with the Bristol Whole Life Approach course launched

In July 2019, we launched our Reconnect with the Bristol Whole Life Approach course. The new course brings people who had already used our Living Well services back into the centre and gives them space to revisit some of the..Read more

2020
Purple Penny Brohn 40th anniversary logo

Our 40th Year!

This year (2020) is our 40th anniversary year and what a year of events and celebrations we have for you. The celebrations have kicked off with our 40 Years campaign, which was launched in October 2019 in the lead up to..Read more

Find the support you need

Call 0303 3000 118

Our services