26th March 2019
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Sunshine and rays of hope at Relay for Life

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Glorious sunshine and a rainbow of colours opened Shetland’s Relay for Life at Gilbertson Park.

More than 1,400 fundraisers pulled on their walking shoes to raise money for Cancer Research UK and help the isles reach the £1 million mark.

Since it started in Shetland 2006 the bi-annual event has raised in excess of £950,000.

This weekend’s event saw fundraisers smash the target – raising a whopping £127,130.56.

Almost 70 teams lined up, complete with banners, hats, flags and brightly coloured tee-shirts, as well as vikings galore – courtesy of several Jarl Squads from across the isles.

Louise Robertson of Cancer Research UK addressed the crowd before 150 cancer survivors started the relay.

She hailed Shetland as “an amazing community”, where people wanted to come together to make a difference.

“Cancer Research UK is a family. A family of people who want to fight against cancer, and you’re part of that family” said Ms Robertson.

“With your hands raised as they are please turn to the person next to you and give them the biggest hug as part of your family.”

'Hope' and 'Cure' illuminated on the hillside as walkers carry on through the night.

‘Hope’ and ‘Cure’ illuminated on the hillside as walkers carry on through the night.

After an all-round embrace it was then time for the survivors lap of honour, greeted with cheers, glassy eyes and a round applause from visitors and team members.

Scores of turquoise team walkers then followed suit and live music, cuppas and burgers helped to stave off tired legs.

Survivor Shona Ward, was walking with the 28-strong Bigton Bairns group.

“This relay does make a huge difference,” she said.

“It’s not something that should be taken lightly because cancer is not easy to go through.”

Being part of the event showed cancer research had worked for some people, but unfortunately it had not for others, she explained.

Raising funds and developing research was important to make a difference, she said and help battle the disease.

Meanwhile, The Wagon Wheels, a 40-strong team, donned cowboy hats and sunglasses for the event.

Member Carolyn Coutts said the team was half children and half adults, the youngest aged one and the oldest in the group aged 79.

 Excellent conditions for the walkers at the start of the relay with the evening sun casting long shadows for the long walk to follow. Photo: John Coutts.

Excellent conditions for the walkers at the start of the relay with the evening sun casting long shadows for the long walk to follow. Photo: John Coutts.

“It’s the third [relay] for us, it’s a combination of teams this year,” she said.

“I lost my husband to cancer three years ago and my partner has lost his wife to cancer four years ago so it’s a big thing.

“It’s a lovely event but it’s extremely emotional. It’s something we have to do because it’s such an important event.”

With the sun setting, illuminated signs of ‘Hope’ and ‘Cure’ shone from the hillside. Below candlelit messages to loved ones lit up the track.

A poignant, and moving Candle of Hope ceremony was held as darkness crept in, offering time to reflect on those who have survived, or a fighting cancer, and those who had died.

Event chairman Martin Henderson said they had an amazing response to event and was hopeful of hitting the £1 million target.

The support was “absolutely overwhelming”, said Mr Henderson and it was great to see young and old taking part as younger ones were the future.

• For more see The Shetland Times Facebook page and Friday’s Shetland Times.



About Adam Guest

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as a senior news reporter at The Press and Journal, The Barnsley Chronicle and as a freelance reporter for The Doncaster Free Press. Alongside news reporting I specialise in music and sports journalism. Pork pie lover.

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