CANCER sufferers across Dorset are set to benefit from a cash boost of nearly a quarter of a million pounds following a generous donation.

Steven Blonstein, from California, has handed over more than £240,000 to the Dorset Cancer Care Foundation - money left to him by his late aunt.

Betty Hyams passed away in 2013 aged 86.

Now her money will go towards projects at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Lewis-Manning Hospice in Poole and the Wessex Cancer Trust to help people being treated for different forms of the disease.

"My aunt stated that should either beneficiary pass away from cancer prior to herself, their share should be awarded to a cancer-based charity," Steven, a father-of-three, said.

"As my sister [Anne] had already passed away from cancer, and because I have such fond memories of my childhood in Dorset, I knew I wanted it to help people here and so I contacted DCCF for their help."

Steve, a former Hardy's Grammar School boy from Wimborne, celebrated the newly established Betty Hyams Awards at a special meeting with Royal Bournemouth Hospital chiefs on Wednesday.

Mike Pask, the treasurer of DCCF, said: "We were deeply honoured that Steve entrusted us to administer the Betty Hyams Awards and have spent the last year visiting projects and deliberating.

"We have already given Lewis-Manning Hospice in Poole two awards, including £18,500 towards a treatment room where day patients can receive medication they need through the night.

"And while it has been very hard to choose between so many great projects across the county, we have no doubt that this and the others we have chosen will benefit local people for many years to come."

Steven added: "I think both my aunt and my sister would have been very happy to know they are helping to provide access to much-needed therapies and counselling for cancer patients across the county.

"My aunt also loved her own garden and would have admired the peaceful therapeutic garden being created for the patients of the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

"It has been very inspiring to learn more about these exciting new projects and to know that my aunt's legacy will play a part in helping so many people. I am very thankful to the DCCF for its hard work in making this happen."