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Features / Stalwart Moore to open fifth Relay for Life

Ann Moore, who has spent over 40 years raising money for Cancer Research, will open this year's relay. Photo: Neil Riddell/Shetnews

THE TWELVE strong Relay for Life committee in Shetland is putting the finishing touches to months of painstaking preparations ahead of the biennial all-night spectacle this weekend.

Around 2,200 people have registered for Saturday evening’s fundraiser, the fifth relay to be held in the islands, across 124 team entries.

The number of teams is down slightly but overall the number of folk taking part is up by around 10 per cent on the 2012 event, a soaraway success which raised more than £10 per Shetlander for Cancer Research UK.

Team captains and members have spent recent weeks and months collecting sponsorship, hosting Sunday teas, organising car boot sales and clothes swaps.

April saw a successful Shetland’s Got Talent fundraiser at Mareel, followed by a t-shirt day to raise awareness earlier this month. The CRUK website shows £95,000 has already been banked.

One team, Loganair Sumburgh, will walk all the way from the south end airport to Lerwick before the event even begins. Another entrant, the TA team, will be doing the relay wearing rucksacks.

Taking on the mantle of chairwoman from Olive MacLeod, who organised the past two events, is Kerry Eunson.

She said the organisers – in particular the logistics team headed by Jim Pearson and Alan Slater – had put in a “phenomenal amount of work” aided by local companies contributing electricity generators, marquees and much other assistance gratis.

The remarkable £275,000 sum raised last time around made Shetland’s the most successful event of its kind anywhere in Europe. Eunson said anything over £150,000 would constitute a great feat this year.

“There’s such a good community spirit up here,” she said. “It’s one of those things, a charity that everyone can relate to – whether it’s themselves or someone they know [who has suffered from cancer] – everyone wants to pull together and do what they can.”

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The relay will begin at 8pm at the Clickimin running track with cancer survivors walking a lap of honour, cheered and supported by the community.
It continues until 8am on Sunday with at least one person from each team walking at all times, with the exception of the Candle of Hope ceremony at 10pm.

Before all that there is a family gala afternoon between 2pm and 4.30pm. Teams will be running stalls to raise money and there will be bouncy castles, a barbeque, candy floss and face painters – all aimed at “getting the bairns gee’d up and enjoying themselves”, Eunson said.

On the night there will be an extensive programme of events including live music, salsa and line dancing, another barbeque, teas, coffees, soup and sandwiches.

Services including massage will be available on site and, for anyone whose energy is not sapped by 10 hours of walking, there will be an FBX (Fatburn Extreme) class at 6am.

It will be an extra special night for Ann Moore, who set up the Cancer Research shop in Lerwick in the late 1980s, as she officially opens the 2014 relay.

“We thought it was fitting she got the chance to do it after all the work she’s put in over the years,” said Eunson.

Indeed Moore’s involvement with the charity stretches back over four decades. Her husband Tommy Moore died of bowel cancer in December 1972 – prompting her to launch what she thought would be a one-off fundraiser.

“There was no treatment,” she told Shetland News. “He was never out of Shetland and suffered a terrible lot. The following year I felt that I had to do something to fundraise. To be quite honest I thought I’d do one event and that would be it.”

Aiming to raise £100 at an event showing slides from Tommy’s whaling days, she ended up collecting over £238. When she went to bank the money she was asked by the cashier, the late Neil Graham, if she wanted to open a fundraising account.

“His crystal ball must have been working,” Moore said, and before long she was getting calls from people asking if she was continuing to raise money.

“People got to know about it. With funerals and what not they’d phone and see if I could take donations – that’s how it went on, and I started having jumble sales.”

She would go on to open the CRUK shop at Harrison Square in either 1987 or 1988 and ran it for many years. Her daughter Dianne Gear runs the shop today, and Moore still helps out.

The first Shetland relay, held in 2006, was initiated after charity representatives travelled north to give Moore an award for 30 years of fundraising. Also present was Belle Spence from Unst, who embraced the task of organising the first two relay events in Shetland after the visiting woman showed them a DVD of other UK relays.

Seventy nine year old Moore (“I feel about 29!”) is honoured to have been asked to open this year’s relay. Although no longer on the committee she will still help out with catering: “I’m still heavily involved and will be as long as I’m living.”

“It’s been a roaring success,” Moore added. “It’s a splendid night – a bit poignant at times, but it’s brought in a lot for the charity. I’m still going to walk, and I’ll be there the whole night because I wouldn’t like to miss it.”



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