THE FISHING community throughout Shetland has come up trumps with a seasonal donation of £15,000 to the CLAN 1,2,3 appeal.
The money came from a fish auction held at the last fishmarket before Christmas, supported by both the whitefish and pelagic sector, and will help fund the building of a new cancer centre in Aberdeen.
The auction captured the imagination of the fishing community, said chief executive of the Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation Brian Isbister, with fishing boats donating their “best fish” to be bought at the “best prices”.
Mr Isbister said: “Every vessel bought into the idea. It was a meaningful gesture and everyone played their part.”
The large cheque for CLAN was handed over by former chairman of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association Bert Laurenson, on board the vessel he part-owns, the Radiant Star.
Mr Laurenson, who spent 37 years at sea, was an appropriate choice as he had recently been a guest at CLAN. The retired skipper said he had finished an eight-week course of radiotherapy on 24th October and did not know what he and his family would have done without being able to stay at CLAN.
“It was first class. The staff were brilliant, couldn’t have been better. I don’t know how we would have managed [without CLAN], it would have been a lot of money if we’d stayed in digs. Their minibus took you for treatment and waited for you and took you back. It was home from home.”
His wife had been able to stay there for three weeks, he said, and his daughter for a week. The proposed new CLAN complex will have additional accommodation for family members.
Mr Laurenson’s son Victor, skipper and part-owner of the Radiant Star and chairman of SFPO, said of the auction: “It was an easy thing to co-ordinate. Everyone backed us up, everyone was in favour.”
Also on board was councillor Gussie Angus, who himself had stayed at CLAN when having treatment some years ago. The former fishing trainer said: “I was absolutely convinced of the need for CLAN then and am twice as sure now. The biggest users will be from Shetland and Orkney. It would be difficult going for extended treatment without something like CLAN. The brand spanking new building will be right across the road from the hospital.”
He praised the fishermen for their donation to the cause. “It’s no’ been the easiest year for the fishing industry – a huge thank you [goes] to the fishermen for making a donation of this amount.”
The original idea for the auction came from Fertile skipper Jimmy Fullerton, whom CLAN committee members had approached with the suggestion of co-ordinating SFPO members to make a donation.
The fishermen’s gesture brings the total raised for the appeal to around £170,000, according to fundraising committee chairwoman Elaine Jamieson. Referring to the SFPO donation, she said: “It is a fantastic, gob-smacking amount, an amazing amount to come from the business sector. It’s a huge boost to get a lump sum like this.”
Other recent donations, she said, had come from the Northmavine parish of the Church of Scotland, which had donated the proceeds of their watchnight Christmas service and money from a group of young people who had given all the money they had left after a night out, plus a bit more, to the appeal.
Mrs Jamieson said: “It’s lovely that people are thinking of us in everything they do.”
Now, she said, she was looking forward to seeing how planned events go in the new year. One of the first will be the grand CLAN raffle draw, to take place on Up Helly A’ night, 27th January. Guizer Jarl Stephen Mouat will draw the winning tickets – first prize is a Toyota Yaris car and there are lots of other splendid prizes. Tickets will be on sale at the CLAN shop in the Toll Clock Shopping Centre when it re-opens in the new year.
The CLAN appeal will run until July and aims to raise £3 million for the building of a new cancer centre in Aberdeen to replace the existing centre and will offer enhanced facilities for accommodation for cancer patients, families and carers, as well as alternative therapies, counselling and information.