About FORCE Cancer Charity

FORCE (Friends of the Oncology and Radiotherapy Centre, Exeter) became a charity in 1987 and has grown steadily ever since. In 2004 we opened a purpose-built Cancer Support and Information Centre, thanks to more than £900,000 raised by local people and the tireless work of the FORCE team. A £350,000 extension to the Centre was opened in 2012, allowing us to support even more people affected by cancer.

FORCE has never lost sight of its origins and core belief that people deserve the best possible support and treatment, face to face and close to home. In 2014 we began providing services in Tiverton and Okehampton and in 2018 extended that outreach programme to include Honiton. Our East Devon service has now switched to Ottery St Mary. Support is available when circumstances allow. We also fund the delivery of chemotherapy in all three towns.

We are committed to improving patient care by funding research and innovation too.


Talk to us today

Offering support to anyone locally affected by cancer since 1987

FORCE Cancer Charity

Corner House, Barrack Road, Exeter EX2 5DW

FORCE nursing team, including benefits advice

01392 406151

Psychological and emotional support

01392 406168

Specialist oncology physiotherapy

01392 403094

Supporting You

Contact us for support – 01392 406151

Support is still available from FORCE

Check out our support services

About us

Get Involved

Contact the fundraising team – 01392 406153

View our events timetable

The FORCE shop


FORCE has contributed more than £10 million to improving the quality of treatment and care available in Exeter for cancer patients and their loved ones.

We have funded more than £1 million worth of state-of-the-art equipment and anyone treated for cancer locally is likely to have benefitted from hardware purchased by FORCE.

We also continue to fund an extremely productive programme of cancer research in Exeter. The results have been published internationally and widely presented at conferences both at home and abroad. To provide vital training for cancer researchers of the future, we have set up research studentships at the University of Exeter Medical School.

We consider it essential that all the services provided by our team of highly experienced and professional staff are available free of charge and we never lose sight of how important it is to provide the personal touch.

It costs £1.7 million every year to maintain the services we provide. None of that money comes from the NHS, Government or any other national source – we generate it all ourselves, principally from three major sources.

Voluntary income – legacies, contributions in memoriam, donations, grants and Gift Aid – historically accounts for around one third of the charity’s revenue. The rest comes from our award-winning charity shop in Heavitree and a series of highly successful fundraising events.

We pride ourselves on our considerate approach to fundraising because none of what we do would be possible without the huge amount of support we receive from the community, including from an army of volunteers.

FORCE’s desire to support our community is matched by the many fantastic and selfless ways you find to support us. It is that mutual love, respect and support which we believe makes our charity unique and so very special.We are able to support so many people because so many of you support us.

We couldn’t do it without you.

Since FORCE (Friends of the Oncology and Radiotherapy Centre, Exeter) was first registered as a charity in 1987 it has developed a vital role in providing local cancer services. Our work is founded on the belief that anyone diagnosed with cancer deserves the best possible support and treatment close to home. We initially operated out of a small room at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital and had no full time employees. Driven by the desire to improve support for local cancer patients, FORCE has grown into one of the region’s most loved and respected charitable organisations. Our administrative headquarters are within our pioneering Support and Information Centre in the grounds of the RD&E and we have an annual turnover of more than £1million.

The early years

In the first 10 years our focus was on research and buying equipment for the hospital. The charity developed from the merger of two local appeals – the Selectron Appeal and HOPE (Home Oncology Programme Exeter), under the clinical direction of FORCE co-founder Dr Chris Rowland. HOPE enabled patients to receive treatment at home rather than in hospital while continuing with normal activities of daily living, giving them a greater sense of control over their own lives.

Dr Rowland also investigated the scientific basis for this method of treatment, conducting research into which chemotherapy drugs could be given in this way and how the body dealt with them, so as to establish the best treatment for that patient. Pioneered in Exeter, home infusional chemotherapy has since been developed further and is now readily available across the UK and the world.

Setting standards for the world to follow

Also in 1987, with support through FORCE, Dr Rowland brought individualised radiotherapy in the form of high dose-rate internal Selectron treatment to Exeter. He and his team undertook pivotal work with this treatment machine, making Exeter the first centre in the world to develop its use in a wide range of cancers. As a result of this work, such radiotherapy treatment equipment is now standard nationally and internationally. Through the success of the Selectron work and the HOPE programme, Exeter became firmly established on the global cancer research map.

In 1991 FORCE appointed a clinical research assistant, and it was this post which became the foundation for the highly successful clinical research programme at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital today. FORCE grew steadily through the 1990s and the Trustees decided to extend the charity’s remit to develop non-clinical support for cancer patients and their families.

The next phase in our history

In 1997 the charity appointed its first Oncology Support Specialist. The following year a one day a week Support and Information Service began in the hospital and this pilot project confirmed the need to extend our support services and find a designated area or building. In 1999 FORCE handed over the management of its research to the Institute of Clinical Sciences – now part of the University of Exeter Medical School. At the turn of the millennium we raised more than £500,000 for the first time and the following year an appeal was launched to build a Support and Information Centre for anyone affected by cancer.

After a three-year appeal the Centre opened in September 2004, thanks to more than £900,000 raised by local people and the tireless work of our fundraising team. In its first year the Centre received more than 9,000 visits, nearly double our original projection. It soon became clear that we needed more space and in 2011 an appeal for £350,000 was launched to build an extension that would almost double the size of the Centre. Incredible public generosity meant the target was quickly reached and the new extension opened in December 2012, enabling us to increase the range of services available to anyone locally touched by cancer. By 2012 the number of visits to our Support Centre during the year had risen to 15,500 and that figure is now around 25,000.

Thanks to a significant legacy, FORCE now has a designated fund to continue supporting innovation to improve cancer treatment. We have expanded our support services further into the community with – when circumstances allow – weekly sessions in Okehampton, Tiverton and Ottery St Mary, offering support, counselling, advice, information and complementary therapies. We also fund the delivery of chemotherapy in all three towns.

Charity Structure

FORCE Cancer Charity is a UK registered charity, number 1140676. The Charity is incorporated as a company limited by guarantee under company number 07529991.

The Charity’s governing document is the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

The Trustees are also the Directors and members of the Charity and they have overall responsibility for the governance of the organisation.

Board of Trustees

Dr Anne Hong is our Chair of Trustees. Information about our Trustees is within the Our People tab on this page.

The existing Trustees are responsible for the selection, recruitment and induction of new Trustees, applying policies which are in place to ensure that:

  • The selection and recruitment of Trustees is inclusive and transparent.
  • The Board are aware of their duties and responsibilities.
  • The Trustees have the necessary skills to fulfil these duties and responsibilities.
  • The Trustees are aware of the Charity’s aims and purpose.

The key priority is to recruit new Trustees with empathy and passion for the work of the Charity. Potential candidates are selected on the basis of skills needed to complement and enhance those of the existing board whilst aiming to reflect the diversity of the community in which we operate.

Prospective Trustees initially meet with representatives of the Board and Management Team and are introduced to the existing Board prior to appointment. New members are given a comprehensive induction and are offered appropriate guidance / training to ensure that they are equipped to fulfil their role.

Trustees’ meeting are held five times a year, including an annual “away day” to allow time for strategic discussion and continued training. Certain responsibilities are delegated to the following committees:

  • Finance & Income Generation Committee – meets approximately 4 times a year and is responsible for the financial oversight and control of the Charity.
  • Governance & Strategy Committee – this is a newly established committee (2019) with responsibility for promoting good governance and ensuring that the Board is updated with relevant laws and regulations. The committee also lead on development, implementation and monitoring of the Charity’s strategy.

Operational Management Team

Responsibility for the day to day operations of the Charity is delegated to the Operational Management Team (OMT). The team comprises the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Finance Officer, Head of Income Generation and Lead Oncology Support Specialist. The OMT meet on a monthly basis and report directly to the Board of Trustees as required.

Charity Strategy

Please read our 2019-2022 strategic vision document here – Strategic Vision 2019-2022.

Charity Regulation

The strength of FORCE is in the fantastic team of people who make our charity the unique and cherished local organisation that it is today. We have a committed Board of Trustees overseeing all of our work and offering strategic guidance as we grow and move forward. New trustees are selected on the basis of the skills they have to complement the existing board.

Our trustees delegate the day to day management and administration of the charity to Chief Executive Meriel Fishwick, supported by the Operational Management Team (OMT) based at our headquarters within the FORCE Support and Information Centre. The OMT comprises the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Finance Officer, Information Services Manager, Head of Oncology Support and Head of Income Generation and meets at least six times a year.
Supporting them is a motivated and skilled group of professional staff who take care of the daily administration of our charity, support those in need of our many services and raise funds to ensure we can keep doing all the things we do.

Underpinning all of this is the work of an army of dedicated volunteers who give us their time and talents so willingly and our many, many supporters in the local community.

Together we make a formidable force.

Our research


Providing support

Our promise to you