“YOUR life doesn’t end because you have cancer – in some ways it can even be a new beginning.”

SUPPORT: The Living Tree group meet at Bridport’s Quaker Meeting House, South Street.

That’s the message from members of The Living Tree, which is now well established as a self-help centre in Bridport for people who have experienced cancer and their families or carers.

The Living Tree began two years ago, founded by Jo O’Farrell and Jo Millar, and is now flourishing.

The group held a mini-concert and tea party last Friday at the Friends Meeting House on South Street to mark Colostomy Association Awareness Day.

Songs from the Rising Voices West Choir, led by choir leader and Bridport town crier Jane Silver-Corren were performed, followed by an afternoon tea party.

Co-founder Jo Millar said: “With the Rising Voices West Choir there’s lots of evidence for the benefits of singing in a number of health conditions, but for people recovering from cancer treatment it helps to relax them and gets their lungs going again.

“Our mini concert and tea party have been a great success with more than 15 members, enabling us to raise awareness and funds for the Colostomy Association.

“The aim of The Living Tree is to offer friendship, creative activities, holistic therapies and relevant diet and lifestyle information for anyone with any cancer.”

Initial start-up funding for The Living Tree came from Macmillan and other contributors include West Dorset District Council, Dorset Cancer Network, Bridport Carnival, and Brit Valley Rotary.

The Living Tree was granted charitable status in February last year.

Some group members are at various stages in their experience of cancer – some recently diagnosed, others undergoing treatment, some in remission, and others post-cancer – but the group is open to anyone. One Living Tree member, Fiona Burkman, has been attending weekly meetings at The

Living Tree for approximately two years.

She added: “It’s a very frightening time when you have cancer but this is an incredibly supportive group and it does wonders to be around like-minded people who understand what you are going through.

“People may not know how to handle it when they hear a friend or family member has got cancer but The Living Tree has that understanding.

“The group helps to really highlight that your life doesn’t end because you have cancer, and in many ways can actually be a new beginning.”

Anyone interested in finding out more is welcome to join the group at the Friends Meeting House, South Street on Friday afternoons between 2pm and 4.30pm.

For more information, visit thelivingtree.org.uk.