The local CLAN 1,2,3 appeal soared through the £600,000 mark yesterday after Shetland Charitable Trust pledged £250,000 with more to come later if required. The donation takes the fund-raising tally to £615,000 as the Shetland appeal enters its final month.
The gift provoked a lot of debate among trustees with some wishing to commit more money now and others calling for aid to be deferred until more reliable information is provided.
There was no denying trustees’ dedication to supporting the cause which is close to many Shetlanders’ hearts. In the last four years more than 40 per cent of the patients, relatives and friends staying in CLAN Haven came from Shetland.
CLAN has already raised about £1.92m towards its target of £3m by March next year to build a new cancer support centre with areas like Orkney and North-east Scotland yet to mount their local appeals. Councillor-trustee Cecil Smith, who has been involved with the appeal from the start, warned that Orkney had not managed to establish an appeal committee.
The charitable trust, although worth £180 million on paper, is spending more each year than it can afford and is currently undergoing cost-cutting to trim its annual spend to £11m. Three months into a new financial year it had no spare cash for unbudgeted donations until an unexpected under-spend from last year recently provided a bonus kitty of £245,000.
Councillor-trustee Allan Wishart was successful in pledging £250,000 to CLAN with the trust remaining open to considering a further donation after the start of the next financial year.
Councillor-trustee Robert Henderson had called for the £365,000 raised by the Shetland public so far to be matched by the trust as “a moral obligation”, requiring about £120,000 to be raided from reserves. Councillor-trustee Gary Robinson got no support for his idea of granting £150,000 in the meantime to see how other areas got on with their fund-raising. “We shouldn’t be so quick to run in with a fist full of cash,” he said.
Trustee John Scott was dismayed by the flimsy two-page report which he was “absolutely amazed” to see did not include the information needed to base a rational decision on, such as whether matching funding was expected, how much had been raised and what was really needed from the trust.
He warned it was dangerous for trustees to allow themselves to be swept away in the emotions of the CLAN appeal when they had a duty to be prudent and “cool”, asking questions like: does this appeal need £365,000 of charitable trust money?
Councillor-trustee Gussie Angus, who has suffered cancer himself, said the community expected the trust to support the cause generously. CLAN was being used by Shetlanders about 300 days a year and numbers were increasing. Unlike most illnesses, cancer can require a Shetland patient to stay up to three months in Aberdeen, far from friends and family.
He said the difference with other appeals, such as the CT scanner and Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, was that the asset would remain with the charity rather than being handed over to the NHS.
The Shetland CLAN committee announced that islanders had raised the equivalent of more than a thousand pounds a day for the appeal.The £365,000 has been amassed in just eleven months. Chairwoman Elaine Jamieson said: “Every day of the year people in Shetland have to deal with cancer and for each of those days more than a £1,000 has been raised. We are absolutely delighted to reach this milestone.”
The CLAN shop in the Toll Clock Shopping Centre raised more than £50,000 on its own.
Chief Executive of CLAN Debbie Thomson, who will be in Shetland tomorrow, said on Wednesday: “It must be a world record for a community to have raised over £1,000 a day for a year.”
The year-long Shetland part of the appeal will wind up on 27th July. The last big event is the grand dance tomorrow night at the Clickimin Centre.
The CLAN 1,2,3 Grand Final Dance will feature six local bands, some specially assembled for the event.
They include Andrew Hughson with a fiddle and accordion band and Alan Nicolson’s orchestra which was brought together for Strictly CLAN Dancing.