Extraordinary success for CLAN appeal as it reaches £650,000

Freda Leask presents a cheque for £500 to Andrew Hughson on behalf of the CLAN 1,2,3 appeal raised from the sale of the Shetland Christmas Carol CD. Click on image to enlarge.
Freda Leask presents a cheque for £500 to Andrew Hughson on behalf of the CLAN 1,2,3 appeal raised from the sale of the Shetland Christmas Carol CD. Click on image to enlarge.

The year-long CLAN 1,2,3 appeal to raise money in Shetland for a new cancer centre in Aberdeen is expected to have raised an extraordinary £650,000 by the time it draws to a close early next week.

That means the campaign has succeeded in netting more than £1,000 a day in a community of just 22,000 people – to the amazement of the CLAN committee here and office bearers in the granite city.

With the recent pledge of £250,000 from Shetland Charitable Trust and a total of £397,755 raised from a bewildering variety of community events as of Wednesday this week, it is anticipated that the £650,000 figure will be reached by Monday, with a flurry of last-minute donations likely. So successful has the campaign been that Lerwick banks have run out of giant cheques to present to the charity.

The new cancer centre comprising a drop-in centre, social areas, rooms for alternative therapies (in CLAN House) and accommodation for cancer patients and their loved ones (in CLAN Haven) will be built on land conveniently near Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, south of Roxburgh and north of Westburn Park.

As happens now, it will provide a home from home for patients from Shetland, Orkney and remote parts of Grampian having radiotherapy, chemotherapy and follow-up appointments. The extended family accommodation in the new centre, which boasts 25 rooms, including family rooms, will be a particularly important feature of the new build as 40 per cent of the occupancy is expected to come from Shetland.

The total projected cost of the new centre is now £4.7m, with just over £2m, including the Shetland money, already raised. Planning permission has already been obtained and the only hurdle now will be to relocate a soakaway and complete the legal formalities.

CLAN chief executive Debbie Thomson said the CLAN centre exists to “make life as easy as possible at a difficult time”. She said: “We have a fantastic facility at present but we’re out of space. We’ve had to turn people away and we don’t like doing that.”

The appeal for money for a drop-in and alternative therapy centre and accommodation for cancer patients and their loved ones was launched in the Town Hall last July.

It has seen fundraisers from teas and homebakes to glitzy dances being staged to drum up money – with cash from birthdays and sponsored walks also flowing into the coffers. There were many “poignant” funeral donations too, sometimes from the families of people who had used the CLAN facilities in Aberdeen.

The aim was for one charity, which covers Shetland, Orkney and parts of Grampian, to take two years to raise £3 million.

In Shetland the effort was concentrated into one year. A CLAN fundraising committee was formed which spearheaded a “short focused” campaign, deemed to be the most effective way of raising funds, and events were organised with almost scientific precision.

These included a corporate dinner, a variety concert and Strictly CLAN Dancing, regarded by many as the campaign’s high point, and a final dance.

And then there were hundreds of smaller events for which the committee acted as a point of contact to help with organisation. A primary school Wii night and council employees wearing purple for a day and asking for donations all added to the total, as did swear boxes and sweetie jars.

The CLAN shop too played a vital role, with more than £50,000 being raised by the “shop at the toilets” in the Toll Clock Shopping Centre.

There were many unsung heroes, notably David Nicolson of the Bank of Scotland who had the all-important task of organising the money so that people could simply walk into the bank and make a donation, Derek Ross who updated the website and John Groat, who shuttled black bags from the CLAN store to the shop.

A reception at the Town Hall for the shop workers was marked by yet another small act of generosity when steward Billy Sandilands stayed on duty for the event and donated his overtime pay to the cause.

This was typical of what CLAN committee chairwoman Elaine Jamieson called the “infect­ious enthusiasm” that seemed to pervade Shetland during the year.

Mrs Jamieson said: “We [the committee] continue to be amazed at how donations are coming in. The enthusiasm of the community has been so encouraging with people thinking ‘what are my skills, what can I do?’” Examples of this, she said, were pancake-baking in Cunningsburgh and the snowball teas – one person inviting two people to tea, the two inviting three people and so on – innovative ideas which had added to the total.

Mrs Jamieson said that this week she had been delighted to collect a cheque in Yell for £10,000 raised by community events since Easter, including from the fun game It’s a Knockout.

And she praised Ivan Hawick’s imaginative fundraisers yet to be unveiled: the “cheeky” calendar and “unforgettable” postcards. “We’re really grateful to him for coming with the idea.”

Throughout the year money has been gathered from all age groups. One of the youngest contributors was eight-year-old Cameron Nisbet, who saved up his pocket money to give £25, and money from centenarian Ruby Lindsay’s 101st birthday in Vidlin Hall, totalling £1,851, probably representing the oldest person’s donation.

Mrs Jamieson said that the appeal “gathered momentum” as it went along, with people being inspired to ever-greater feats of endurance. There was the “Fleathon” walk through Shetland and the marathon rowing event at Clickimin.

As the Shetland part of the appeal winds down, Mrs Jamieson said: “A huge massive thank you to the people of Shetland [for raising so much money]. I hope everyone who uses the new centre will have a huge sense of pride that they helped to make it happen.”

Now it seems that CLAN’s vision for a new cancer centre could become a reality by the end of 2010 thanks to the concerted fundraising effort, according to CLAN chief executive Debbie Thomson, who was in the isles three weeks ago to thank residents for the amount exceeding “a grand a day” they had gathered.

Mrs Thomson said she could hardly “get her head around” Shetland’s generosity, which has been boosted by the recent pledge of £250,000 from Shetland Charitable Trust.

“This past year has been so successful with the whole of the community in Shetland getting behind CLAN and our 1,2,3 campaign. Not only have they excelled by raising so much money but they have thoroughly enjoyed themselves – they have put the fun in fundraising.

“My recent visit gave me an opportunity to personally thank the committee and many others for their help and support and for coming up with such wonderful ideas for raising money – who can forget Strictly CLAN Dancing and now we have the “Unforgettable Shetland” postcards and the forthcoming calendar.

“Everyone who has volunteered and helped has taken us a huge step closer to our larger centre at CLAN House [comprising the drop-in centre, social areas and alternative therapy rooms] and CLAN Haven [the accommodation area]. I hope by the time of my next visit in September to have some wonderful news about the expected start of the new build.”

• One of the most recent CLAN fund-raisers was Marvin Inkster from Burra who completed a gruelling cycle journey from his home to Land’s End.

Marvin left Shetland on 10th July and arrived in Orkney the following day. He cycled through Orkney and caught the ferry to John o’Groats, from where he pedalled to Dingwall to spend his first night under canvas using the tent he had taken with him.

“I woke up and it was pouring,” he said. “I tried to get the tent packed up in the rain, it was nae use.” But he got back on the road and headed to Fort William.

The worst part of the journey lay ahead, however. Marvin avoided the cities as much as possible and cycled on the quieter roads – but was unable to find anywhere to spend the night after leaving the Highlands. “I cycled all night – I couldn’t find anywhere to bide.” Desperate for some rest he sheltered for a couple of hours in a service station: “I did wonder sometimes what I was playing at.”

Things improved after he reached Carlisle, just over the English border, although the cycle ride from Fort William had taken its toll. Marvin’s ankles became sore, something he had never experienced before in his training, when he had “cycled everywhere” around Shetland. “I took some painkillers and strapped my ankles up.”

Marvin knew he had to carry on. He had always wanted to do the trip and the opportunity came when he decided to get sponsorship for CLAN. “Giving up wasn’t an option.”

Being in Carlisle gave him a chance to get a couple of broken spokes on his back wheel fixed – they went again at Wigan, something he attributes to the weight of his panniers.

By then he was nearly halfway through his trip and he was confident he would finish.

The rain dogged him, however – it rained part of every day: “I was expecting fine weather but the rain kept me cool.”

He averaged 125 miles per day, although by Dartmoor forest the ride became “really bonny but awful hilly” for a couple of hundred miles: “You pedal up a hill and think you’re at the top, then there’s another hill. It’s good fun getting down. You’re doing nearly 40mph downhill but only 6mph coming up.”

The traffic was not too much of a problem: “It was very busy on the A30 for the last couple of days and some cars honked their horns but I just ignored it.”

It was worth it to see the end of the 1,000 mile ride in sight, he said. “I was brawly chuffed.”

Marvin has raised more than £3,000 in sponsorship for CLAN and yes, he said, he would do it all again.

• CLAN will still welcome donations which can be given direct now that the Shetland campaign is ending. There will be more CLAN photographs in next week’s Shetland Times.


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