Douglas MacMillan - Ranelagh Road, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 29.246 W 000° 08.340
30U E 698625 N 5707913
Quick Description: This English Heritage blie plaque, to Douglas MacMillan, is attached to a house on the north east side of Ranelagh Road in Pimlico, London.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 11/4/2014 10:35:40 AM
Waymark Code: WMMTQQ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 0

Long Description:

The MacMillan website has an article about Douglas MacMillan that tells us:

Douglas Macmillan was born on 10 August 1884, in Castle Cary, Somerset, one of five sons and three daughters. He was head boy at his school and in 1901 he went to study at what is now Birkbeck College in London.

In 1905 he took up a position on the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, as the government ministry was then known, and he remained a civil servant until he retired 40 years later. In 1908, he married Margaret Miller.

The death of his father

In 1911 he watched his father, William, die of cancer. The loss had an enormous effect on Douglas. It led to this 27-year-old man dedicating the next 53 years of his life to improving the lives of those with the disease. A few days before his father’s death, Douglas had received a birthday gift of £10, which he made the first donation to what he called the ‘fight against the ‘cancer scourge’. With this he had set about founding the charity that now bears his name.

The National Society for the Prevention and Relief of Cancer held its first Annual General Meeting in 1912 at the Macmillans’ house at 15 Ranelagh Road in Pimlico, London. A blue plaque now marks the location. Douglas wanted advice and information to be provided to all people with cancer, homes for patients at low or no cost, and voluntary nurses to attend to patients in their own homes.

In the years before the First World War, Douglas spread knowledge and information about cancer – its causes, symptoms, treatments and advice about prevention to the society’s members and to the public through public meetings and distributing leaflets. Macmillan also demonstrated how inadequate hospital facilities were at the time for cancer patients. He noticed that figures for cancer deaths showed regional variation and realised there was much research to be done.

The impact of the war years

The start of the First World War in 1914 had a devastating effect on the Society. The distribution of information ceased and there was no money coming in. Margaret, Douglas’ wife, had means of her own and financially supported the society during the war. But Douglas feared the society would not survive.

The Second World War also had a major effect on the Society but Douglas was determined to continue his work. The offices in London were hit in bombing during 1940, destroying a lot of the early records and forcing the society to move out to Surrey.

A boost came when the BBC agreed to run an appeal on the radio home service (now Radio 4) on the weekly Good Cause. On 28 December 1941 the Bishop of Bristol, Clifford Salisbury Woodward, made an appeal. After this the Society received £7000 (about £200,000 today). The appeal also raised the profile of the society, helping guarantee a future income.

The later years

Douglas retired from his work in the civil service in 1946 and he became chairman of the Society in 1949. His wife, Margaret, died of cancer in 1957. A year later, he married Norah Owen. But ill health began to take its toll on him in 1958 and he retired from the Society in 1963 at the age of 79.

Although he was very ill Douglas refused to go to hospital and wanted to die in his own home. On 9 January 1969 he died of cancer of the oesophagus, the same cancer his father had died from. He was buried at the cemetery in his home town, Castle Carey.

Douglas believed that the sickness of the breadwinner shouldn’t lead to the family having no means of support. He was very aware of the importance of fundraising. This is why events like the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning are so important to ensuring that Douglas Macmillan’s legacy lives on.

Blue Plaque managing agency: English Heritage

Individual Recognized: Douglas MacMillan

Physical Address:
15 Ranelagh Road
London, United Kingdom

Web Address: [Web Link]

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