Our history

A timeline of the charity's history


Our story started in 1964 when the Cobalt Unit Appeal Fund was founded by Dr Fred Hanna to raise money for a machine to treat cancer and a facility to house it. Cobalt units were used to deliver therapy to destroy cancer tissue. The Cobalt Unit was based within the Radiotherapy Department, which later became the Cheltenham Oncology Centre. Even then we focused on raising funds for state-of-the-art equipment to treat patients in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.


We provided a whole body X-ray scanner for the diagnosis of cancer and other diseases for the Oncology Unit at Cheltenham General Hospital. We launched a Cobalt Cancer Prevention and Early Detection campaign for the Three Counties.

The Gloucestershire Breast Screening Service was established, and we provided the accommodation for this and the first mobile screening unit that was purchased.


1990 - We launched the Mobile MRI Service. Three units in total commenced service this decade including the first 1.5 Tesla mobile MRI in Europe.

We raised £765,000 for an Advanced Treatment Machine for the Oncology Centre at Cheltenham General Hospital

The Noughties

2006 - The Cobalt Imaging Centre was opened including a high field Open MRI, especially designed for claustrophobic or larger patients.

2009 - We supported a campaign to raise £5.1 million for an Integrated breast service, with state-of-the-art equipment - Thirlestaine Breast Centre.

2011 - Our Heart, Mind and Body Scanner Appeal raised £1m for a high definition CT Scanner for Cheltenham General Hospital improving scanning times and image quality especially for cardiac patients.

2012 - We funded digital Mammography equipment for The County Hospital, Hereford.

2014 - Marked our 50th Anniversary supporting our community. Funds raised allowed us purchase new mobile scanner and a cutting edge PET/CT scanner to be used at Cobalt Imaging Centre.

2016 - We launched the ITM Imaging Centre in Birmingham, a vital research service for the Institute of Translational Medicine at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.

Cobalt now

Cobalt have secured two new partnerships

The first was a new Dementia Research Partnership formed between Cobalt and 2gether NHS Foundation Trust to carry out research into Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. Read more on their website here. 

Then, working with the Institute of Translational Medicine (ITM) and Queen Elizabeth Hospitals Birmingham (QEHB) we developed the ITM Imaging Centre an MRI research facility, which will enable a broad range of research for many specialties including cardiac liver, oncology and neurosurgery.

Cobalt's unique Imaging Centre in Cheltenham, houses  a high definition 3.0 Tesla MRI scanner and a state-of-the-art PET/CT scanner. We also have a fleet of six mobile MRI scanners, including two of Europe's first and only 3.0 Tesla MRI scanners and new 1.5 Tesla wide bore MRI systems, which have increased patient comfort, shorter scanning times and deliver superior image quality.

We continue to invest in research, equipment and education which aim to deliver improvements in clinical diagnosis in the future. We continue to support people affected by cancer, dementia and other conditions.


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