Welcome to the OPA Support for Portsmouth and the Local area of South Hampshire Group (OPA-SPLASH)


We welcome anyone diagnosed with or recovering from Oesophageal Cancer, we also welcome family members and friends/carers as we understand that this journey affects more than just the patient. Whatever your circumstances, we are here to support you.

We meet quarterly at the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham. At our meetings you will have the opportunity to meet others in a similar situation to you, as well as their family members and those supporting them. Meetings are free to attend, and light refreshments are provided.

Details of our meetings will be updated here regularly, and if you are already a OPA-SPLASH member you will also receive information by post or email.

To provide OPA-SPLASH with your contact details, so that you may be contacted regarding meetings and events please complete this Contact Form

 Queen Alexandra Hospital


Meeting Schedule

Contact us on 02392 286 000 ext 5422 or email philcoverdale@opa.org.uk.

 Date                                      Venue                           Time             
Saturday 29th June 2019 E Level Education Centre, QA Hospital, Southwick Hill Road, Cosham, Hampshire, PO6 3LY 10:00 - 12:00
Saturday 14th September 2019 E Level Education Centre, QA Hospital, Southwick Hill Road, Cosham, Hampshire, PO6 3LY 10:00 - 12:00
Saturday 30th November 2019 E Level Education Centre, QA Hospital, Southwick Hill Road, Cosham, Hampshire, PO6 3LY 10:00 - 12:00


Our meetings take place at Queen Alexandra Hospital. As well as the chance to chat to fellow members and a question and answer session with an Upper GI Surgeon, we strive to give you a wonderful selection of guest speakers to ensure you get the very best from your meetings. 


How to find us

By Car - Take exit 12 of the M27. On entering the QA Hospital site by car via the main entrance, the main multi-storey car park can be found on the left, with the north car park clearly sign posted.

By Public Transport - Bus and Train Services run regularly from Portsmouth and the surrounding areas, with some busses stopping on the Hospital grounds. You should select 'Cosham' as your stop, the Hospital is a 10 - 15 minute walk from the town centre and train station.

Queen Alexandra Hospital
Southwick Hill Road
Hampshire PO6 3LY






About us

Who we are
The OPA-SPLASH group is made up of a mixture of current and former patients, their carers and close family members and friends. Our group members (both male and female) come from a wide range of backgrounds and occupations, and all have very different stories to tell. We all have one thing in common however, and that is we all aim to help and support each other, very much employing the ethos of the OPA - 'former patients helping current patients'. We are also very lucky in that representatives from The Queen Alexandra Hospital Upper GI team (including specialist nurses and surgeons) regularly attend our meetings and we are truly grateful to them for their continued support and advice.

Our aim
We aim to help patients (and their families) pre and post treatment by offering support and guidance from those who have been in a similar situation themselves. We realise how important it is for our members to interact with eachother, and dedicate part of our meetings to this so that life-long friendships can be formed. In addition to the national objectives of the OPA, we also hope to conduct a number of regional awareness initiatives, plans for which will be discussed at future meetings.

Meeting Structure
Our meetings are very informal and take place at Queen Alexandra Hospital. Each meeting typically lasts for 2 hours and gives attendees an opportunity to hear the latest news, share their experiences, and learn from others. There is no obligation for anyone to speak publicly (your level of participation is completely up to you). Going forward, we also hope to be able to offer inspiring and engaging presentations on a wide range of topics, by a number of carefully selected guest speakers. After the main meeting has ended, you are welcome to stay and talk to other patients (either in groups, or on a one to one basis ). Some attendees choose to stay on for lunch or a drink in the hospital restaurant. A typical meeting agenda is shown below.

  • Welcome by Group Treasurer or Cancer Nurse Specialist
  • Latest news and developments (e.g. new research findings and treatments)
  • Group Chat/Interaction
  • Refreshments
  • Guest Speaker
  • Questions from the floor (Ask the surgeon)
  • AOB
  • Closure by the Group Treasurer

How do I know when the next meeting is taking place?
Details of forthcoming meetings will be displayed on this page and will be posted or E-mailed to a mailing list of group members by our Secretary. If you would like to be added to this list, please contact us at the address at the bottom of this page. Where possible (to save on postage and administration costs) we would prefer to contact members by E-mail.

Can anyone attend?
Yes absolutely. We welcome patients from across the South of Hampshire, we also welcome visitors from further afield, including representatives from other OPA support groups. You do not have to be a patient to attend (you may be a partner, carer, friend or close family member for example). In fact we positively encourage non-patients to attend. Feedback from attendees suggests that carers (usually spouses or partners) looking after their loved ones can often learn a great deal from other carers (answers to questions such as "Is this symptom normal?" for example). We would also encourage GPs and medical professionals of all levels to attend.

How much does it cost?
Our meetings are absolutely free to attend and there are no 'membership' fees. Additional food and drink is available in the hospital restaurant. Any additional leisure activities organised by the group may incur an additional charge, however we will notify attendees of any costs prior to organising an event, and participation is optional.

What if I don't feel well enough to attend?
As former patients, we fully understand the difficulties you may be undergoing as a patient... be they physical, psychological or both. Whilst you might not feel like talking about cancer, wherever possible, we would encourage you to attend, as we are confident you will find our meetings both supportive and informative. From gaining tips on treatments, diet or relaxation techniques to knowing how to deal with some of the symptoms, you may be surprised at what you can learn by talking to another patient. You can also take comfort knowing that you are not going through the experience alone and that there are others who you can turn to for help, guidance and support. If you are too unwell to attend in person, please feel free to send someone else on your behalf (e.g spouse, friend, or family member).


How to contact us:

Address: FAO Lorraine Sutton, Upper GI (MDT Office) E Level, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, Hampshire PO6 3LY

Tel:        02392 286000 ext 5422

Email:     philcoverdale@opa.org.uk


Group Administration

Your OPA-SPLASH Committee is comprised of a small team who work exceptionally hard to make sure meetings suit your needs. The Committee meets prior to each group meeting to plan the venue, timing, guest speakers, and general schedule. Future group events will also be arranged by the Committee.

Feedback is encouraged from group members and the Committee use this to ensure you get what you want from your session.


OPA-SPLASH Committee Members:

Mike Cotton Former Patient (Group Chair)
Lorraine Sutton    Upper GI Specialist Nurse, QA Hospital
Phil Coverdale Former Patient (Treasurer)
Pamela Kimber Family/Carer (Secretary & Promotion)
Mel Willis Former Patient
Gill Millett Former Patient
Graham Moss Former Patient


News & Upcoming Events!

Our first day trip!

On Tuesday 12th June 2018 50 members of OPA-SPLASH went to RSH Garden Wisley for a day trip - the trip was the first of its kind and was organised as a bit of a change from the normal group meetings. Feedback from our meetings tells us that the coffee & chat time provided is often the most popular part of the meeting with members making the most of the chance to interact with others sharing the experiences - so what better way to do this than in the sun! Just look at these happy faces waiting for the coach!

You can see more photos from the trip in the Meeting Snapshot section below. 



Well done Lorraine!

We are hugely proud of our Upper GI Clinical Nurse Specialist Lorraine Sutton for recently coming 3rd in the Oncology Nurse of the Year category at the British Journal of Nursing Awards held in London in March 2018. Lorraine was nominated for this award largely due to her part in making OPA-SPLASH the success it is, she is pictured below with Janice Cloud who was nominated for the Continence Nurse of the Year Award.



Quiet Room Opening January 2018

More than 3 years in the making; the OPA-SPLASH Quiet Room was officially opened on 17th January 2018 by QA Hospital's Chief Executive Officer Mark Cubbon. The ceremony was attended by hospital staff, OPA-SPLASH committee members and local press who were thrilled to publish a story on the room which offers a quiet calm sanctury for patients & their families. Previously patients were having to discuss their condition often in busy places around the hospital, the Quiet Room allows for privacy and dignity so patients can 'come to terms with their condition in a safe and confidential environment' said Consultant Surgen Mr Toh. Mark Cubbon proudly cut the ribbon to unveil the room with OPA-SPLASH treasurer Phil Coverdale and Committee Member Graham Moss who donated the majority of the £7,000 funds needed for the room, Mark told The News 'Patients affected by cancer tell us that having a quiet place to reflect is so important and I would like to thank the OPA for making it a reality, as without their tireless fundraising it wouldn't have been possible.' 

To read the full news article on the opening of the Quiet Room please click HERE



2017/2018 Fundraising


Joy & Chris Rose raise £400

Many thanks to Joy & Chris Rose who have raised £400 for OPA-SPLASH by sellng a charity CD! We are constantly amazed by your ideas and efforts in fundraising and appreciate every penny so thank you! 

David Wiggin & wife Emma raise £300

Thank you to David Wiggin & wife Emma who recently raised £300 for OPA-SPLASH. David had an Oesophagectomy in 2016 & in 2017 the super fit pair cycled 1500 miles raising £50K for Cancer Research UK. This year they hope to do the same for OPA-SPLASH by fundraising in a variety of ways. 

Marie-Anne Rudd raises £242 at coffee morning

Marie-Anne is the daughter of OPA-SPLASH member Peter Harriss & following his successful surgery for Oesophageal Cancer Marie-Anne decided to raise both funds and awareness of the work of the OPA. Coffee mornings such as this are a great way to fundraise - you can even cheat & bring in shop bought cakes! Thank you for your support Marie-Anne! Peter Harriss was thrilled to present the cheque during our March meeting. 


Marie-Anne working hard at the cake sale  Peter Harriss presenting the cheque to Lorraine Sutton, Mr Toh and Anne Gibbons


Hill Park Memorial Working Men's Club raises £2,393.69 at Fun Day

On Bank Holiday Monday 28th August 2017 the Hill Park Memorial Working Men's Club held a fun day to raise funds for OPA-SPLASH. This involved face painting, various stalls, a tombola & mechanical bull riding. Great fun was had by all who attended and the cheque was presented to OPA-SPLASH during the Quiet Room Opening Ceremony. A huge thank you to all involved! 

Fun Day Fun! Fun Day Fun!

Cheque presented to Phil Coverdale at the Quiet

Room opening

Pam & Andy's 'Ward Walk' for UGI Cancer Services raises £1,470

Committee members Pam & Andy took part in a 10K 'Ward Walk' around Staunton Country Park on Sunday 21st May 2017 to raise money for the UGI Cancer Services Department at QAH. This not only raised funds for a wonderful & relentlessy hard working department close to all of our hearts; but it was also in memory of Pam's father John who passed away in 2012 from Oesophageal Cancer. Thank you to all who sponsored Pam & Andy on their walk, and a special thanks to Andy's friend Dan who promised to donate a very generous £100 if Andy completed the walk dressed as a hotdog! 



2016 Fundraising


Phil Coverdale raised £2,325 on his 25K 'Trekfest'

Lucy Millett raised over £800 running the City to Surf 14K


We would like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has kindly raised or donated money to OPA-SPLASH. Your support helps us to provide the quality support group you have all come to know and love.

In particular we thank Graham Moss for his donation of £10,000 during April 2016. Graham donated this money in appreciation for the 'outstanding care' received by the Upper GI department whilst undergoing treatment for Oesophageal Cancer. This money helped to secure the Quiet Room opening during January 2018.



OPA-SPLASH in the Media

OPA-SPLASH Chairman Mike Cotton has appeared in the Portsmouth Evening News speaking of his health scare; read the story of his terrifying ordeal and also his journey with Oesophageal Cancer here: Mike Cotton Evening News Interview 28 Oct 14

OPA-SPLASH member Gary Martin's story has featured in the Portsmouth Evening News; his fast acting GP and early diagnosis lead to a full recovery & he urges people to see their GP immediately as soon as they notice any changes in their swallowing. Gary Martin Oesophageal Cancer Story 5th January 2016.

OPA-SPLASH Treasurer Phil Coverdale's story features in an article for, 'Trends in Urology & Mens Health' December edition. Click HERE to read this fascinating article on Oesophageal Cancer - diagnosis and management. 

Phil Coverdale's 25K 'TrekFest has helped to raise awareness of Oesophageal Cancer and its symptoms by helping the OPA produce a leaflet to be handed out by GP's and pharmacists to those being prescribed antacids. Phil raised a phenomenal £2,325! If you would like to read his full story, then please click HERE. Phil's story featured in the Petersfield Post - to read the full article please click HERE


Helpful Links

Cancer Research UK      http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/
NHS Choices http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-oesophagus/Pages/Treatment.aspx
Macmillan Cancer Support http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Home.aspx
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esophagus


Meeting Snapshots

Over the past 5 years we have been thrilled at the success of our group meetings. Our members make many new friends to share their experiences with; and enjoy the social aspect of meetings as well as learning a wealth of information to put into practice from our guest speakers & surgeon Q&A sessions. Below are just a few snapshots of some of our group meetings over the years. 

Resident surgeons attend every meeting Lorraine, Mike & Mel on raffle duty Group discussion in process Andy & Georgie ready for coffee break
Former Chairman Bob Mason & Committee Members enjoy sharing expereinces Literature available at every meeting Briony & Lorraine's Xmas Quiz!
Coffee & Chat time is always a favourite Mel - our raffle king! All raffle funds go to OPA-SPLASH Meeting others is key to our success
RHS Garden Widley trip RHS Garden Widley trip RHS Garden Widley trip
RHS Garden Widley trip RHS Garden Widley trip  RHS Garden Widley trip

2017/2018 Meetings

18th March 2017

Despite the weather not looking great, many members enjoyed our March meeting which had a spotlight on diet. Our dietician Briony discussed how to eat well to maintain good health and we all had a good debate over the fat in various foods. To see the slides from Briony's presentation, please click HERE.

We also launched the book club; we hope members will enjoy swapping books as the months go by and encourage members to hold local book club meetings and keep the discussions going! 

Finally; we celebrated Anne's 50th Birthday and presented her with 2 lovely cakes - thank you for spending your birthday with us Anne!

A spotlight on Diet Happy Birthday Anne!


Committee Meeting Minutes

If you would like to see what is discussed during a committee meeting, you can view the Minutes below:

20 Aug 14 Committee Meeting Minutes

3 Dec 14 Committee Meeting Minutes

13 May 2015 Committee Meeting Minutes

19 August 2015 Committee Meeting Minutes

3 November 2015 Committee Meeting Minutes

10 February 2016 Committee Meeting Minutes

23 April 2016 Committee Meeting Minutes

6 Sep 2016 Committee Meeting Minutes

2 Nov 2016 Committee Meeting Minutes

8 Feb 2017 Committee Meeting Minutes

9 Aug 2017 Committee Meeting Minutes

17 Oct 2017 Committee Meeting Minutes

6 Feb 2018 Committee Meeting Minutes

25 Apr 2018 Committee Meeting Minutes 


We positively encourage feedback, and we always want to hear your suggestions on how we can make the support group better for you. If you would like to discuss a particular area then please do not hesitate to contact at enquiries@opa.org.uk or by telephone on 0121 704 9860 or complete our feedback form found here: Feedback Form

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