Keeping Abreast


Breast cancer reconstruction support charity Keeping Abreast has got plenty planned!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a busy time for every breast-cancer related charity and organisation and no doubt this October will be no exception.

The Norwich-based breast cancer reconstruction charity, Keeping Abreast, has a whole host of events planned, from a tempting tapas evening at the beginning of the month, and activities with local stores in the middle of the month, to the opening of the Original Charity Card Christmas Shop at St Peter Mancroft Church in the heart of the city towards the end of October.

Keeping Abreast is a peer-to-peer support charity which helps those considering, facing or going through breast reconstruction after a breast cancer diagnosis or the discovery of a hereditary breast cancer gene.

The charity runs face-to-face Support Groups and Outreach Groups – in Norwich, King’s Lynn, Stalham and Wymondham – and is involved in other activities in and around Norfolk and Suffolk, such as the regular ‘Coffee, Cake and Natter’ mornings at the Louise Hamilton Centre at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston.

Dates of the face-to-face Support Groups and Outreach Groups are posted on the Keeping Abreast website at: while details of other events are also posted regularly on the charity’s social media sites.

The people being supported can go along to the face-to-face support groups for a cuppa and a chat and can also see real-life results of breast reconstruction surgery in the ‘Show & Tell’ sessions where former breast reconstruction patients show off the results of their surgery, in a private room or area, to help others and to alleviate their concerns. They are there to answer questions about their breast reconstruction surgery – not from a medical perspective, but from personal experience – in order to help others know what it’s really like to go through breast reconstruction, as well as offering helpful hints and tips to prepare them for their own surgery and recovery. 

Those who can’t make the face-to-face support groups can also be supported by phone, email, WhatsApp, text and so on, by a network of registered Keeping Abreast volunteers who have been through different types of breast reconstruction themselves, while there is also a wealth of information on the charity’s website,, which includes real-life breast reconstruction videos, patient stories, FAQs and much more.

The charity also provides free Comfort and Care Bags, containing items that are useful pre- and post-surgery, to breast reconstruction patients on the wards of local hospitals as well as to individual breast reconstruction patients further afield.

But back to the events in October. This month many of the charity’s volunteers will be out and about at different activities to promote awareness of Keeping Abreast’s services as well as to fundraise; the charity doesn’t receive any government funding and so relies on events, activities, grants and donations to keep afloat.

Jenny Bond, fundraising officer, has been busy organising a number of different activities which will kick off with a tasty tapas event at the Garden Kitchen at Hoveton Hall in the Norfolk Broads on Friday 6 October. The event promises to be a lovely mixture of delicious food, music and company, with tickets £35 per person, including a donation to the charity, which can be booked at:

Meanwhile, the King’s Lynn Keeping Abreast Support Group is organising an afternoon tea at The Bank House Hotel on King’s Staithe Square on Saturday 7 October at 3.30pm. Tickets for this relaxing afternoon of sandwiches, tea and cake are £25 per person and it’ll be a chance to find out more about the King’s Lynn Support Group as well as to tuck into some tempting treats. For more information, contact Claire Southery at the King’s Lynn Group at:

Next up is the Keeping Abreast Wymondham Outreach Group on Wednesday 11 October at Star Throwers, 30 Melton Road, Wymondham, NR18 0DB which will take place from 2pm to 4pm. As with all the Support Groups and Outreach Groups, there is no need to book – simply turn up on the day, either on your own or with a friend, partner or family member, and the KA volunteers will be happy to help you.

The next ‘Coffee, Cake & Natter’ event at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston will take place the following day, Thursday 12 October, from 10am to midday, when KA volunteer Julie Hanks will be manning a Keeping Abreast stall, and there will also be a number of other cancer-related services. The event is free of charge and open to everyone and it’s a chance to have a chat about breast cancer and breast reconstruction and to find out what support is available.

Then on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October Keeping Abreast Volunteers will be donning their bright pink T-shirts once again for a weekend in Jarrolds, in Norwich city centre, when they’ll be shaking their collection buckets, giving out flyers and selling lucky dip tickets to promote what the charity has to offer.

Monday 16 October will see the next KA Norwich Support Group which takes place regularly at the Patteson Parish Room in Cringleford, NR4 6UE. The times are from 7.15pm to 9pm and more information is available from Jane Crockett, the KA Norwich Support Group Lead, at:

The volunteers will then move to the other side of the city centre on Wednesday 18 October to celebrate BRA Day – Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day – in John Lewis, Norwich, when they’ll be manning a Keeping Abreast stand in the Lingerie Department as well as being available in the fitting room if customers want to find out more.

Activities on BRA Day will include a raffle and a lucky dip with prizes from John Lewis’s many beauty counters and, most importantly, the Keeping Abreast volunteers will be there to offer support to anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and who is considering breast reconstruction, along with support for their partners, families and friends.

Later in the month Keeping Abreast will be one of many different local charities to be supported by the Original Charity Christmas Card Shop which will open on Saturday 21 October and continue until Saturday 9 December. The shop will sell Christmas cards, wrapping paper, tags, calendars and so on and there will be a Keeping Abreast representative there every Saturday from 1pm to 3pm.

So, there are plenty of opportunities this month to find out more about breast reconstruction following a breast cancer diagnosis and to talk to others who have already been through the process. For those feeling concerned and anxious about their own surgery – or perhaps trying to make up their minds about their own breast reconstruction options – talking to someone who has already been through breast cancer and breast reconstruction and come out the other side can be very useful indeed.

As Kerry Kemp, business development manager for Keeping Abreast said: “October is a very important month for Keeping Abreast, with all sorts of activities and events planned. It’s a chance for us to generate awareness of the support services that the charity offers as well as to raise some much-appreciated funds. Keep an eye out for our KA volunteers in your area and in the meantime, don’t forget to take a look at the website at:”