Cancer support charity Maggie’s Yorkshire recently ran its first Men’s Meet Up group with ex rugby league star, Stevie Ward.

Stevie spoke to a group of men who are living with cancer, whether their own diagnosis, or that of a friend or family member. He spoke about his brain injury, giving up playing rugby and how he has navigated life after his career came to an end.

The charity, based on the grounds of St James Hospital, Leeds, plans to run these group sessions monthly with a range of activities and speakers. The aim of which is to encourage more men to come to the centre for support.

Nationally men account for 51% of new cancer diagnoses each year according to CRUK*. Across Maggie's, one third of our visitors are men. The charity has completed a piece of work looking at the support we offer men and the research suggests that men want practical advice and reliable information and they need to build trust before talking about their challenges and needs. We have also found that men value meaningful connections and purposeful, focussed activity from their support.

The Men’s Meet Up group aims to build trust and relationships, provide peer connection and social support, as well as shared learning and practical experiences. Men are influenced by their peers and male leaders, so each group will include lectures and talks, focused activities and external speakers.

The group will run monthly, with no number limits. In April, architect of the centre and world renowned designer, Thomas Heatherwick will speak, and in May the group will be joined by charity Cancer & Pisces Trust, who aim to enhance the lives of people with cancer through therapeutic fishing.

Amanda Proctor, centre head at Maggie’s Yorkshire said: “We know that men often don’t seek support for their cancer, and men who care for their families or partners with cancer are even less likely to come in for support. But we know that when men do come into our centre they find the support we offer, and the peer support, really helpful and often form strong friendships which can be a huge benefit when living with cancer.

The aim of this ‘Men’s Meet’ is to bring men to our centre, with the hope it will encourage them to return. We’re really excited to be launching it with Stevie who will be talking about his brain injury and how he had to stop playing rugby and change his life. Our outside speakers are not necessarily cancer related but a way of bringing men together.

Andrew, our Psychologist will be facilitating the group and will be able to signpost to other groups and support depending on what the men share at the group.”

Stevie Ward, ex-rugby player and motivational speaker said: “It was great to come into Maggie’s today to speak to these men. I know how much of an impact an illness or injury can have on your life – not just physically but mentally too. Having to re-build your life can feel really daunting and access to the right support, and having other people going through a similar thing can make all the difference.

Seeing the amazing centre and the support on offer at Maggie’s Yorkshire was really inspiring and I’d encourage anyone living with cancer to visit.”

To find out more about the group and Maggie’s Yorkshire please visit the centre at St Jame’s Hospital, or get in touch on 0113 457 8364 or

The centre is open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm and all our support is free. You don’t need an appointment or a referral, you can just come in.