Girls Aloud superstar Kimberley Walsh took time out from her busy schedule to join a group of women whose lives have been affected by breast cancer at the opening of a purpose-built £2.2million Haven – the first of its kind in Yorkshire.

Among them was her Shipley-based dance teacher Deana Morgan who set her on the road to stardom when she was a young girl and teenager and who had decided to help other women after winning her own battle with the disease.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2006, Deana Morgan vowed – in true theatrical style – that the show must go on.

Determined not to destroy the dreams of scores of Bradford school children, she threw herself into organising a huge performance at St George’s Hall, until she had to be admitted to hospital for life-saving surgery.

Her efforts meant the show was a huge success.

But her personal experience of breast cancer spurred her on in her work for various breast cancer charities, including Breast Cancer Haven.

Yesterday, she was among guests for the opening of the charity’s new northern base.

Along with Kimberley Walsh – a pupil of Deana’s from the age of nine – she toured the specialist unit designed to provide care for more than 12,000 breast cancer patients and their families.

Deana, 45, of Crossflatts, Bingley, said: “You can come here and talk to people, there are internet services and complimentary therapies; anything you can do to get you better is here.

“It is all under this roof and all free of charge.”

Deana said: “I met the people who are in charge, the fundraising and management team and they were talking to me about the £2.2million they needed to raise in order to get this off the ground.

“Kimberley was a student of mine and she said that, when she found out I had breast cancer, that if there was anything she could do to help she would. When I rang her about Breast Cancer Haven, she was only too happy to help.”

Kimberley, who grew up in Allerton, Bradford, before hitting the big time with Girls Aloud, decided to support her former mentor for the official opening of the centre in The Gateway complex in Leeds city centre.

She had been touched after hearing of Deana’s battle with breast cancer and her subsequent fundraising drive for the Haven.

“There are so many amazing things that people can try here. I think it is great,” Kimberley told media who gathered at yesterday’s launch. “It is close to my heart with it opening here in Leeds and, obviously Deana, my dance teacher, has been heavily involved with it as well.

“I think it is amazing to have this here. People can come here whether they are suffering themselves or have a family member with breast cancer. It is open to everybody.”

She added: “I think families suffer terribly as a result of cancer and here, they can come and share their experiences and feel a bit more comfortable with what they are going through.”

The driving force behind the first Haven was Sara Davenport, a mother-of-two who felt compelled to act after her nanny was diagnosed with cancer.

Realising there was not adequate care for women like her, she used her determination, charm and selling skills to transform a derelict church in Fulham, London, three years after setting up the charity.

Another Haven has since been opened in Herefordshire but the Leeds centre is the first in the north of England.

Because the charity receives no Government funding and is dependent on donations and fundraising, a drive was started in 2006 by the Countess of Wessex, a Haven board-member, to raise the £2.2million needed.

Since then money has been donated by groups such as The Yorkshire Freemasons and the Maharaja Textiles, which fundraised during the opening of a new bazaar in Bradford.

Individuals, including eight-year-old Helena Ashurst, who sold her toy collection at school, have also contributed to the cause and in May, Deana hosted a fun evening at DM Academy based in Briggate, Shipley.

It raised about £1,500 to add to more than £8,000 the dance teacher has raised for other cancer charities.

The money will pay for running costs and therapies to compliment medical treatment. They include workshops on Shiatsu, healthy food cookery demonstrations and courses to help people enhance their self esteem, organised by a team led by Debra Horsman, programme manager for the Leeds Haven.

She said: “About 4,000 women a year are diagnosed with breast cancer in Yorkshire. Their diagnosis and treatment can have a huge emotional and physical effect on them and their families.

“The new Haven is the first of its kind in the north of England to specialise in complimentary therapies designed with the purpose of complementing and enhancing breast cancer treatment. Breast Cancer Haven will also offer counselling and support to help with the emotional impact of the disease.”

Speaking at the opening of the Leeds centre, Sara said it was “unbelievable” how much support for the charity had grown since it opened the first Haven in 2000.

“It is incredibly exciting,” she said. “The Haven was just an idea when we sat down eight years ago and thought it would be amazing to have all the facilities under one roof and free of charge to women with breast cancer. Now we have one in London, one in Herefordshire and this one in Leeds, which will provide 12,500 appointments a year to support and care for local people and their families.

“It gives you hope just walking through the doors here and then you know you are going to be OK. It is an incredibly empowering thing.”

Haven is still looking for people to volunteer at its Leeds base, including people to help maintain its library and run its kitchen Anyone who can spare time to help should contact Programme Manager, Debra Horsman on (0113) 2847820.

To discuss fundraising ideas to support Haven, contact the Yorkshire fundraising team on (0113) 2847800.

For general information, visit

e-mail: marc.meneaud