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Scarborough Woman Wins National Cancer Award

Fundraiser Gill Blanchard from Scarborough has received a national award from Cancer Research UK’s annual Flame of Hope Awards at a special ceremony in Manchester.

A Scarborough woman who has fundraised for nearly two decades has scooped a national award from Cancer Research UK, celebrating her outstanding contribution to the cause.

The charity’s annual Flame of Hope Awards acknowledge remarkable efforts in volunteering made by people from all walks of life and 2024 marks 21 years of the recognition programme.

Gill Blanchard, was named a Cancer Research UK Honorary Fellow in appreciation of her exceptional loyalty and dedication to the cause.

Gill first began fundraising for the charity in 2006 following the death of her second husband to prostate cancer. Motivated to do something to help others diagnosed, she joined the Scarborough Group of Friends fundraising group.

Sadly over previous years, Gill had also seen her mum and grandma diagnosed and lose their battle to pancreatic cancer and stomach cancer.

Gill, a mum and grandma, said:

“When I first joined the group there were about 10 regular members and I was pleased to get involved to try and do my bit.

Over time the group went through a number of changes and I gradually took on more responsibility and roles, from Secretary, to Treasurer and finally Chairperson. It eventually became a committee of one and I was pretty much the last regular member left. Still I managed to put on events with the help of good friends and a new willing husband!

“During my time we did all sorts to raise money from carol concerts to bake sales and much more. Over the years the Scarborough Group of Friends raised about £150,000 and I’m very proud to have played a part of that.”

An audience at the prestigious event held at The Monastery in Manchester, where Gill was presented with her award by Cancer Research UK Chief Operating Officer Angela Morrison, heard how Gill has shown exceptional commitment to the charity.

Gill, who was joined by her husband Mike at the awards, said:

“I was delighted to receive this award and to be part of such a special event. It was really humbling to hear about all the incredible work people do to fundraise and support Cancer Research UK and I was proud to be among the recipients.

“After 18 years, while my days as running a fundraising group have come to an end, I’ll always support Cancer Research UK where I can. In the meantime, I look forward to spending more time with family, especially my son and granddaughter who live in Bristol.”

Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, Michelle Mitchell, said:

“Thanks to the dedication of more than 25,000 volunteers supporting us right across the charity – from keeping our shops running to helping us operate many of our outdoor events and so much more – Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of progress that has seen cancer survival in the UK double over the past 40 years.

“The Flame of Hope Awards give us the opportunity to celebrate and thank the amazing people who give their time and energy wholeheartedly and who have made outstanding contributions. We are proud to have presented almost 2,000 awards since the first ceremony back in 2003 and to be able to shine a spotlight on their incredible efforts and achievements.”

The 2024 Flame of Hope Awards were held at six locations across the UK throughout March. Gill was among 135 individuals and groups recognised.

Cancer Research UK spokesperson for North Yorkshire Lisa Millett, said:

“These awards are our way of honouring incredible people like Gill who give their time freely to raise money for research and promote greater awareness of the disease, and yet ask for nothing in return.

“Time volunteered is not ordinary time. It’s time infused with passion, drive and determination. It’s time honouring lost family members and friends. Or extra time gained thanks to advances in research.

“Every step we make towards beating cancer relies on every pound, every hour and every person.

“That’s why, with volunteer numbers having dropped significantly due to the pandemic, we’re encouraging people to get involved and start their journey to a potential Flame of Hope Award now.

“Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and learn new skills, and committing just one hour a week can help make a difference to people affected by this devastating disease.”

Find out more about opportunities to volunteer for Cancer Research UK at cruk.org.uk/volunteering


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