Plaque unveiled to honour Betty Westgate, cancer care campaigner and pioneer

By - Tuesday 20th October, 2015

Betty Westgate, cancer care campaigner and founder of the national charity Breast Cancer Care, has been awarded a posthumous blue plaque outside her former home in Croydon for services to charity.

Photo by Breast Cancer Care, used with permission.

Release begins: Betty Westgate, who lived on Colworth Road in Addiscombe until her death in 2000, spent over thirty years supporting people affected by breast cancer. From her living room the mother-of-four created an organisation that would go on to become national support charity Breast Cancer Care.

At midday on Monday 19th October, a crowd gathered to watch the unveiling of Betty’s plaque at 1 Colworth Road. The whole event was organised by Betty’s next door neighbour and friend Lyn Simmons.

The Mayor of Croydon, Patricia Hay-Justice, said a few words of welcome and celebrated Betty’s achievements with a short speech. She was joined by renowned breast cancer oncologist Professor Trevor Powles CBE who led the unveiling.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1968, Betty was disappointed about the lack of information and sensitivity towards breast cancer patients.

In 1973 she started the Mastectomy Association, running a telephone support line from her back room, which offered help and information to people affected by breast cancer.

Through Betty’s determination the Mastectomy Association grew and became Breast Cancer Care in 1994.

Now the charity supports thousands of people affected by breast cancer every year, offering everything from information booklets in hospitals, online Q&As with breast care nurses to support events run by trained specialists.

Lyn Simmons, Betty’s neighbour from 1979 onwards, says: “In my years of living next to Betty, I always thought of her and her husband Jim as just lovely, friendly neighbours.

“As the years passed by we discovered what an incredible woman she was, and the pioneering work she was doing behind closed doors. It also explained why their phone would ring at all hours!

“I had presumed she was a very popular woman. It all made sense when she told me about the support line she was single-handedly running. This plaque is a great way to celebrate Betty’s life and incredible work.”

Samia al Qadhi, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Care, says: “I am delighted that Betty has been honoured with a plaque outside the home where it all began over forty years ago.

“I had the pleasure of working with Betty during my years at Breast Cancer Care. She was such a wonderful woman who wanted the best for people with breast cancer. This has remained the core principle at Breast Cancer Care; providing care, support and information from day one.

“With over 55,000 people each year receiving a devastating diagnosis, Betty’s vision has never been more important and we are committed to continuing her amazing work.”

For care, support and information from day one, call Breast Cancer Care’s nurses free on 0808 800 6000 or visit

Release ends.

Release sender: Breast Cancer Care.



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  • Anne Giles

    In fact, very few cases require a mastectomy. I had my cancer removed in 1994, followed by radiotherapy and the drug Tamoxifen.