Thursday, 14 January 2016

Taking time out at Vicarage Road and showing his support for Watford FC was an opportunity not to be missed for Donegal supporter, Joe O'Donnell.

Joe, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer six months ago, and has been supported by the Starlight Centre at Peace Hospice Care, confessed he had not been to a football match since the 1970s when he watched Pat Jennings play for Arsenal.

But beneath the floodlights in  the Sir Elton John Stand, Joe was thrilled to have a chance to watch the Golden Boys take on Manchester City.

'It was a great match and atmosphere,' said Joe. 'Thanks to the club and to the Hospice for the chance to be there and enjoy some incredible football.'

Since his diagnosis, Joe has benefitted from the weekly 'Men's Exercise' Group at the Starlight Centre gym.

The Exercise Group was initiated by Phil Nesbitt from FOPS (Friends of Prostate Sufferers) a local support group who meet monthly in Chorleywood.   Phil made the link with the Starlight Centre, and following a phone call, the Exercise Group was launched to benefit men affected by cancer. 

Joining in with an hour of exercise weekly has helped Joe get fit, lose weight for a forthcoming operation and benefit from the support of Macmillan funded, fully qualified fitness instructor Sam Townsend from the YMCA 'Move More' Hertfordshire activity programme and Starlight Centre physiotherapist, Sarah Thompson.

 'The exercise group really helps my mental attitude as well my physical health,' said Joe. 'Sam is a great instructor and being at the gym is also a social space.'

Sam is aware that men are often less willing to seek and accept help but welcomes newcomers to the weekly sessions and can tailor make a programme of fitness.

 'The Monday exercise group is a very comfortable environment for all,' said Sam.

Joe urges other men to get involved, join the Starlight Centre 'Men's Exercise Group' and find the support they need.

'I also attend an independent monthly support group who meet in Chorleywood - FOPS (Friends of Prostate Sufferers),' said Joe. 'Meeting others with the same condition I can get reassurances, fellowship, music and laughter and the chance to get answers to my questions from medical experts. It's a really great group and the support has helped me and so many others.'

For further information on the Men's Exercise Group contact the Starlight Centre Community Liaison Co-ordinator on 07952 999101 or 01923 330330 or email

For further information on FOPS