Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust NHS Lozenge

Hello My Name Is Helen Jones... she's an inspiration and here to support our cancer patients

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She's a vicar's wife who's had breast cancer, lost her Mum to cancer  and is now supporting our patients as our new manager in our Macmillan Info centres. Mum-of-two Helen Jones says: "It is a privilege to go home every day knowing you have made a difference to someone affected by cancer."

Hello my name is…Helen Jones. 

I live in Huddersfield and am married to Ian, who is vicar of Kirkheaton Parish Church (I’m still getting used to the chiming of the church bells on the hour every hour, right next to my house!). I have two lovely boys – Ben is 20 and studying Maths at Leeds University and Oli is 17 and studying for his A Levels at Greenhead College and hoping to go to York University in September to study Chemistry. Outside work, I run a charitable Christian organisation, Firm Roots Cancer Support, which offers prayer support groups and retreat days for people and families affected by cancer, which is growing in different parts of the country.

What is your position?  

I am the new manager of the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service across both sites of the Trust, but based on the Greenlea Unit at HRI. I have a fantastic colleague, Mandy Davies and brilliant volunteer team, which we are hoping to expand.   Part of my role is also to do some Project Management supporting Christopher Button, the Lead Cancer Nurse, with the Trust’s delivery of the Recovery Package and NHSE national improvements for cancer patients, which need to be in place by 2020. This means working closely with CNS teams to support them with Holistic Needs Assessments, Care Plans etc, but also to review and develop a Health and Wellbeing Programme for people affected by cancer.

Summarise your career background
I worked as a Speech and Language Therapist for 20 years and specialised in work with deaf babies, children and adults. In 2010, when I was 40, I had breast cancer and had to have a mastectomy and six months of chemotherapy. This changed my perspective on life and essentially drew me into a career with Macmillan, as I wanted to support and walk alongside other people going through what I had been through. My first job with Macmillan was six years ago when I managed the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre in Southport and then in 2017 when we moved to Yorkshire, I joined the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance as a LWBC Project Manager leading on the Recovery Package and a project to identify the unmet support needs of people living with incurable cancer, and devising a proposal of support.

What is the highlight of your career so far?

In 2016 my team at the Southport Macmillan Information Centre won a Macmillan Excellence Award for integration excellence,  at the Macmillan national conference, which was a real honour and surprise. I have loved all of my Macmillan posts, and it is a privilege to go home every day knowing you have made a difference to someone affected by cancer.

Sum up your role in three words

Leading, inspiring, caring.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I loved English and little children, so wanted to be a primary school teacher or English teacher. I only heard of Speech and Language Therapy whilst doing my A Levels, so did some observations and research and then decided on that as a career instead.

Who is your hero/heroine and why?
My mum! I lost my mum to cancer when Oli was a baby – she was only 56. She was diagnosed very late and died seven weeks after her diagnosis. Her courage, faith and integrity through all that, as well as her devotion to myself and my three siblings growing up, has made me the person I am today and also brought me into my work with people and families affected by cancer. 

When you are not at work, how do you relax?
I love going to the cinema and out for meals, as well as walking and swimming. I’ve been learning the piano over the last few years and playing ‘The Greatest Showman Hits’ and songs from musicals can help me unwind after a busy and emotional day!

What is your favourite place?

Venice. Ian and I stayed there for our 25th wedding anniversary a couple of years ago (I was a child bride) and I loved it!

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Well I am a rubbish vicar’s wife as I would rather drink red wine or gin than bake or make jam! I suppose people may be surprised to know I had two books published in 2012 – one was a Speech and Language Therapy assessment for deaf children and the other ‘My Right Hand in the Father’s’ was a book about how God and my faith helped me through my own cancer journey. 

We’re planning to develop Facebook and Twitter for the Macmillan Information and Support Service, as well as updating the trust website and starting a patient newsletter. It would be great if you could follow us and let us know about any relevant events or stories you want us to promote. Thank you!

Send us your stories

Contact Communications at HRI, Caroline Wright (x5252), Jacqui Booth (x5256) or Daman Birik (x5253).
Deadline: Wednesday 12 Noon