Marie Curie Cancer Care has relaunched its daffodil bulb campaign to promote awareness of its home nursing care work this month.

The direct mail promotion sent potential supporters a pack containing a daffodil bulb, planting tag, donation card and letter. The letter was written by a Marie Curie Nurse of the Year and gave an insight into her work and its importance. The pack also includes guidelines for growing the daffodil.

The message is that by the time the bulb flowers in spring, the charity will have helped 7,000 terminal cancer sufferers to be nursed at home.

According to research, around 75 per cent of terminally ill cancer patients would prefer to die at home. Around half of those who do so are helped by Marie Curie Cancer nurses.

The charity hopes to raise more than £800,000 from the initiative, which is backed by Target Direct and Yellow Pages, which paid for the bulbs and tags.

More than 500,000 people are being sent the packs this week. Most are regular bank payment supporters from the charity's database.

The scheme was first tested in 1997 and officially launched in 1998.

Angela Reinfor, direct marketing manager at Marie Curie Cancer, said the bulb was "successful as an involvement device, and has taken our fundraising to new heights".

The main part of the daffodil campaign will run in March, when the plants are in flower, but they are being sent out now so they can be planted in September.

The campaign could face difficulties in the coming years because of the new size-based pricing scheme Royal Mail plans to bring in. Ray Clark, group marketing director at Target Direct, said: "Posting mailing packs with anything of interest - pens, bulbs, things like that - is going to get very difficult."

The agency is testing new formats this year to combat the problem, including sending out smaller packs, or removing the bulbs altogether.

The bulb campaign is a popular one, according to Chris Dainty, the charity's head of PR and marketing. "We get letters back from people asking for more bulbs. Some people send in pictures of their daffodils."

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