Dr. Derek Douglas


Entrepreneur Derek Douglas, who helped set up a network of pioneering cancer care centres, becomes a CBE in the 2006 New Year honours.

He lost his 37-year-old wife Sandra to cancer in 1995 and afterwards chaired the Maggie's Centre charity.

Dr Douglas spent more than seven years spearheading the Edinburgh-based charity's growth, recruiting high-profile supporters including JK Rowling and Kirsty Wark to help fundraising efforts.

Husband honoured for cancer work

BBC News 31st dec 2005

Maggie's Centre in Dundee

A number of Maggie's Centres have opened around the country

A man who helped set up a network of cancer care centres has become a CBE in the New Year's honours, 10 years after his wife died from the disease.

Venture capitalist Derek Douglas lost his 37-year-old wife Sandra just before Christmas in 1995 following a five-year battle with cancer.

Soon afterwards he agreed to chair the Maggie's Centre charity and spent seven years spearheading its growth.

He helped recruit supporters like JK Rowling and Kirsty Wark to raise funds.

Thousands of cancer patients and their families have benefited from visiting the five Maggie's Centres, which offer advice and support in a friendly, non-institutional environment.

A further seven centres are due to be built over the next few years, including one in London.

I don't think I could have given back to more people in the community than through helping a cancer charity

Derek Douglas

Dr Douglas, who devoted one day a week to Maggie's before standing down as chairman in December 2003, said his work with the charity was part of a "healing process" following his wife's death.

The 52-year-old said: "It's always nice for other people to recognise the things that you've done, particularly in relation to Maggie's.

"Quite a few of my businesses have done quite well but the ability to actually give something back to the community is one of the things I was really glad I was able to do.

"Because one in three people get cancer, from my own point of view I don't think I could have given back to more people in the community than through helping a cancer charity."

Sandra Douglas was a friend of Maggie Keswick Jencks, the founder of the Maggie's Centres.

Keswick, driven by her experience of drab, austere hospital wards and waiting rooms, spent her final months drawing up plans for a place where patients and their families could relax in a friendly environment with beautiful gardens and bright spaces.

'Just atrocious'

The first Maggie's Centre opened its doors in the grounds of Edinburgh's Western General Hospital in November 1996 and was extended a few years later.

Dr Douglas, whose Midlothian-based Adam Smith Limited specialises in launching early stage technology firms, likened the opening of Maggie's Centres across the country to the growth of businesses supplying high-demand services.

Recalling his own experience when he and Sandra learned she had cancer - shortly after they returned to Scotland from living in New Zealand in the late 1980s - he added: "It was just atrocious.

"You were just taken into a room in an old hospital, sitting on school-type chairs.

"You went in there and the consultant had seven minutes to tell you it was cancer before they had to move on to someone else - you were just sort of left there.

"You were numb and there was nothing to say what it actually meant, what were the different treatments and the possible side-effects, how this would affect you psychologically.

"All those sort of things that Maggie's now offers were just not available."



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This page was last updated on 11 October 2021

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