DONATIONS to Ilkley's Ardenlea Marie Curie centre are falling - and fundraisers believe the reason is a 'wasted money' fear.

The Queens Drive-based centre was due to shut on November 1 of this year, but fundraiser Brenda Doyle told the Gazette that this will not now happen.

Ardenlea is being replaced by a brand new £5 million cancer centre in Bradford. But Mrs Doyle said this was not now expected to open its doors until February 1, 2001.

Mrs Doyle said the Ilkley centre needed £1.3 million per year to maintain the existing services offered.

"A drop-off in donations has been noticed and I think there is clearly a feeling among some people that there is no point donating money because it will be wasted. I want to say there is no question of any money being wasted," she said.

The centre has been a feature of Ilkley for more than 35 years and it has always relied heavily on the generosity of fundraisers in Ilkley and the surrounding communities.

Ardenlea representatives attended an Ilkley Parish Council open meeting last year to stress the importance of continued support.

Although the centre itself is leaving Ilkley, certain support services will be retained in Ilkley, as well as the fundraising office.

"It is very important that people do not dismiss Ardenlea as a centre that is just winding down and waiting to hand over to the new Bradford centre," said Mrs Doyle.

"The other factor which might be causing people to think before supporting the centre is that the money is somehow being stockpiled, that it will simply be passed on to the new centre in Bradford," she said.

Mrs Doyle said this was simply not the case. "It costs about £1,000 per inpatient per day at Ardenlea. I can assure you that money is spent very quickly indeed."

The fundraising team is well aware of the sense of 'loss' in Ilkley and that people might be reluctant to part with their cash.

However, she said it was vital for fundraising to continue. "With the Bradford centre now expected to open in February next year, that still leaves us with about ten months to generate money for Ardenlea. You are certainly looking at a figure of about £1 million," she said.

"We are continuing to organise numerous events for Ardenlea, from walks to the Dublin Dash. I hope people will see we remain committed to the centre," she said.

Anyone wanting further information about Ardenlea fundraising activities should contact Mrs Doyle on (01943) 817395.

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