Race to support food bank and cancer charity at Kirkistown meeting

KIRKISTOWN Race Circuit will be hosting its biggest weekend of the season at the end of the month, including the showpiece Leinster Trophy race, with two charities set to benefit from the meeting.

Newtownards Food Bank is the focus of a sponsored walk of the circuit and a charity dinner - already sold out - in the clubhouse restaurant on Friday August 26.

There are still spaces at the sponsored walk, which promises to give a different perspective of the famous Co Down track. It has been organised by Darren Gilmore, who is marshal and organiser of the Five Hundred Motor Racing Club events. It costs £5 to take part, with all funds going to the Newtownards Food Bank.

The food bank is operated by the Thriving Life Church in the town and is one of more than 400 that come under the umbrella of The Trussell Trust.

It is offering vital support across the Ards Peninsula; anyone who is given a voucher by one of more than 30 agencies is guaranteed three days of nutritionally balanced emergency food and support.

In the first six months of this year, the Newtownards food bank fed 1,205 people from 444 families in the area; in June alone there was a 40 per cent increase in clients. As with other food banks across Northern Ireland, the fear is that it will be busier than ever this autumn and winter.

As well as vital backing for the food bank, Kirkistown is supporting the charity OG Cancer NI which will be at the meeting on Friday August 26 and Saturday August 27.

The oesophageal and stomach cancer charity will have a stand and its new van at the clubhouse, offering advice to race-goers. All of the people on duty will be first-hand OG cancer survivors.

"Early diagnosis is key to fighting this disease, therefore raising awareness of the symptoms of oesophageal and stomach cancer is vital," said health minister Robin Swann recently.

"This new mobile unit will not only help raise awareness but will also be a very important source of support for those in Northern Ireland who have been diagnosed with this type of cancer.

"Symptoms of oesophageal and stomach cancer include persistent heartburn or acid reflux that doesn't go away, trouble swallowing, sudden weight loss, regurgitation or hiccups that do not go away."

According to the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, only 10.4 per cent of upper gastrointestinal cancer patients are diagnosed at the earliest stage. The five-year survival rate for those diagnosed at the earliest stage is 68 per cent, compared to 2 per cent for those diagnosed at stage four.