Debut radio play by Ribble Valley playwright raises charity funds

Playwright Olivia Assheton.
Playwright Olivia Assheton.
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“The Waiting Room” is a radio play set in the oncology waiting room of a UK general hospital.

Written by Downham’s Olivia Assheton and produced and performed by amateur dramatic group Stage Two Downham, it tells the moving stories of patients, and their carers, at various stages of cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Tackling just some of the many issues faced by cancer patients, the characters tell their own personal stories in a series of monologues linked by interactions with each other, as their wait to be seen lengthens over a morning.

Although they are very different in their backgrounds and their stories are sometimes difficult to listen to, the characters’ wait unites them in an uplifting spirit of camaraderie, understanding and co-operation.

The play will be launched on World Cancer Awareness Day on Monday to support the radical remodelling of Rosemere Cancer Centre’s in-patient Ribblesdale Ward.

Work is due to start on the £842,000 re-build in weeks for completion this autumn. It is the final in a trio of projects, which made up Rosemere Cancer Foundation’s 20 Years Anniversary Appeal. The appeal launched in March 2017 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening of Rosemere Cancer Centre, the region’s specialist cancer treatment centre, at the Royal Preston Hospital.

From Monday, “The Waiting Room” is free to play or download from Rosemere Cancer Foundation’s website at

Mother-of-two Olivia, who lives at Downham Hall with her husband Ralph, is a former patient of Rosemere Cancer Centre. Now one of its ambassadors, Olivia regularly supports fundraising events and was also a member of the Foundation’s 20 Years Anniversary Appeal committee.

Olivia, who last year completed an MA in creative writing at UCLAN, said: “I hope that listeners will gain a real insight into the cancer diagnosis and treatment process from the play, as well as finding many of the messages in it inspiring and positive. If it moves anyone to make a direct donation to the Ribblesdale project that would, of course, be wonderful.

“It is mainly there, though, to highlight the great cancer treatment work that is carried out every day in difficult circumstances by NHS staff and supporting organisations such as Rosemere Cancer Foundation.”

• Olivia will feature on Radio Lancashire on Monday morning with Sally Naden, who will be playing extracts from the play and talking to her.