ABOUT 50 people in Herefordshire troubled by cancer received £16,959 in grants from Macmillan Cancer Support last year.

The one-off payments helped them pay heating bills, travel to and from hospital, pay for stair lifts, buy new clothes after dramatic weight loss and other items to improve their quality of life.

Jeff Faulkner, regional director for Macmillan, said many people with cancer were eligible for state benefits and Macmillan offered advice on how to claim them.

"But benefits take time to to process and some financial problems need to be solved quickly, so Macmillan gives grants to assist with urgent needs or those that fall outside the benefits system,'' he said.

Across the country as a whole Macmillan paid out more than £8 million in grants to 22,282 people.

Anyone in finanial difficulties because of cancer should ring the Macmillan help line 0800 500 800.