One of the lesser-known regional organisations, the Hawke's Bay Ostomy Group, gained three new life members at a special gathering yesterday.

Supporting those with colostomy issues, the group exists as a casual support community and recently amalgamated the national's Hastings and Napier arms into one regional group.

Yesterday Jean Blaker, David Wahl and John Lowry (absent) were presented with life memberships to the support group which means their annual $20 subscription fee is waived, president Hugh Thornton said.

"We have lunches together once a month but we took the opportunity this time to do the presentation. The two who were present didn't know they were getting it so it was really quite something."

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Mr Thornton said the purpose of such a support group was to get people with similar experience together supporting one another.

"We've all suffered from cancer or colitis, something of that nature, and had our bowels removed or part of our functioning body removed.

"The object of the whole thing is when we come together if anyone has a problem those that have been through that particular era can open up and it just gives them huge relief."

He said he'd seen this many times but unfortunately the Privacy Act prohibited them from contacting those eligible to be in the group to offer support to them.

"A lot of people don't even know we exist and it's very hard to get out there and say that we're here for those who have problems and they can touch base with us.

"We're a very laid back, easy going group and I know it provides a lot of relief to people simply by talking about their situation."

A group of 28 gathered at the Napier RSA yesterday for the presentations, but they normally meet at Mondo Cafe in Hastings the first Wednesday of every month and the Napier RSA in Napier on the second Wednesday.

Mr Thornton said bowel cancer was one of the biggest killers in New Zealand and affected many people yet many people did not know their organisation existed.

"When people do come through quite often they say they didn't know we did this. I can think of two people at the moment, recent members, that have been given a purpose for living just through this society being there."

He wanted those interested in joining the support group to know they could contact him for more information by phoning (06) 877 1553.

"If anyone wants to touch base with us we're an open, friendly lot [of people]."