HMS Heron host ‘Top-table lunch’ to raise money for the Mustard Tree Cancer Support Centre

HMS Heron The Mustard Tree Cancer Support Centre at Derriford Hospital has received an incredibly generous donation of £1163.35 from patient Vicky Couch and the Royal Naval Air Station, Yeovilton (also known as HMS Heron).

The Mustard Tree provides support to people with cancer, their families and their carers. The centre is available to anyone affected by cancer, at any stage of the illness.

Before her cancer diagnosis, Vicky had visited the centre in the past in a professional capacity, working as a community palliative care nurse during the mid-nineties. When Vicky received bad news at her first oncology appointment, she and her family needed somewhere quiet and private to go; her first thought was the Mustard Tree.

“I remember patients and relatives who had made use of the resources provided by the Mustard Tree had always spoken highly of the kindness and support they received,” said Vicky.

“We arrived confused and upset. We were offered support, information, space and kindness. Almost a year later, I have become a regular visitor.

“I have had the benefits of treatments such as counselling, reflexology and massage. I’ve talked with nurses and volunteers, been taught how to wear a headscarf, attended a ‘look good, feel better’ session and had countless cups of coffee. All of these things have helped me.”

Vicky’s partner, Ed, was the Mess President at HMS Heron at the time Vicky was diagnosed with cancer. They were active members of the Mess and had made some great friends there.  Ed was due to take up a new post in Portsmouth and traditionally, he would have attended a farewell dinner in the Mess but Vicky’s health at the time meant he was unable to attend. The Mess Committee decided to organise a fundraising dinner as an alternative.

Non Commissioned Officers at HMS Heron came together and arranged a ‘Top-table lunch’ event in the Warrant Officers’, Seniors Rates’ and Sergeants’ Mess. The lunch and raffle were generously supported and raised a fantastic £1163.35 for the Mustard Tree. Ed was able to attend and Vicky was offered the opportunity to decide what the money raised should be used for.

“I was asked where I would like the money to go,” said Vicky. “The committee felt strongly that it should be a local charity that had made a difference to me and my family. I didn’t hesitate to nominate the Mustard Tree.

“The generous donations from everyone who attended was a lovely surprise and very much appreciated.”  

To find out more about how you can fundraise or make a donation to University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, please visit


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