THANK you – that’s the message to the people of Dorset as the new digital mammography machine started scans at Dorset County Hospital .

In just over a year campaign fundraisers and members of the public raised £500,000 for the new machine for the new breast cancer unit at the hospital.

Everyone from young to old got involved with fundraising events including teddy bears’ tea parties to fancy dress days at work, coffee mornings, wine and cheese events and a cycle ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

Fundraiser Wendy Nightingale, who lives near Marshwood, said a huge thank you to everyone that had helped.

She said: “Thank you to everyone, no matter how big or small the donation.”

She added: “I can’t believe it.

“It’s just wonderful.

“The machine is up and running now.

“They are still refurbishing the new cancer ward and we are hoping to have an official launch in November.”

The campaign was launched in February 2011 and most of the money was raised by April 2012.

Mrs Nightingale said she never thought they would reach the target so quickly.

“Everyone said we are in a terrible economic climate.

“But as soon as it was launched people spread the word and I think people have really enjoyed fundraising.

“It’s been absolutely amazing. the ideas people have had,” she said.

Even the nation’s most decorated sailor Ben Ainslie got onboard and donated a prize to their raffle for a chance to go sailing with him.

Mrs Nightingale said: “What people have done has been just overwhelming.

“It’s overwhelming how kind people and businesses have been.

“It lifts your heart that people can be that kind.”

She added: “I’m so overwhelmed by everything that’s gone on. It shows when it’s a local charity for local people that people will pull out all the stops.”

Mrs Nightingale said that local people would definitely benefit from the service and that Dorset would now have ‘one of the best breast cancer units in the South West’.

And there was cause for extra celebration as Mrs Nightingale, who herself had breast cancer, has just been given the five-year all clear.

She paid tribute to the staff and doctors at the Dorchester hospital.

She said: “It’s all down to Dorset County Hospital .

“They were brilliant.”