12:00pm Thursday 24th March 2011
By Reg Little
FILM star Hugh Grant has honoured the work of an Oxford doctor to educate people about health conditions.
The Four Weddings and a Funeral star praised two websites set up by Dr Ann McPherson, who retired after 30 years at the Beaumont Street surgery in 2008.
He also spoke of his late mother Fynvola’s battle with pancreatic cancer, a disease battled by Dr McPherson, who has also combated breast cancer.
The websites, healthtalkonline.org and youthhealthtalk.org, celebrated their 10th birthday this week.
Mr Grant, whose mother died in 2001 aged 66, said: “Although the doctors at the time were fantastic in explaining the disease and the possible treatments, we did wish at the time for as much information as we could get.
“It would have been great if we could have got first hand accounts from people who suffered from the disease.”
The actor, who attended New College, Oxford in the late 1970s and is a patron of the charity behind the sites, said: “That is why I think this website is such a great thing.
“It’s nothing but testimonies from people who have the disease, or who have been close to it.
“And it’s wonderful that after ten years, the website now covers so many different illnesses and health issues to support patients and their families.”
He has now backed a fundraising appeal to raise £72,000, a mile of £1 coins, for DIPEx, the charity that runs the websites. The sites are backed by research carried out at Oxford University.
They feature interviews with people suffering from conditions including cancer and heart disease and mental health issues.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley also backed the “unique resource” at the launch.
Dr McPherson, of north Oxford, said she came up with the idea for the website after being diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago.
She said: “I was a well informed doctor but I was desperate to know how ordinary people felt.
“I didn’t want to read about glamorous celebrities who had climbed Kilimanjaro, while being treated for breast cancer. But there was no way to access such information.”
She was already a bestselling author while working as a GP.
Diary of a Teenage Health Freak, sold more than a million copies and was a hit TV series.
Last year Dr McPherson, who has terminal pancreatic cancer, set up a group of 12 health professionals, the first of its kind, to lobby for patients to be given the right to die.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group