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Relay For Life breaks million pound barrier

The Gilbertson Park was bathed in sunshine for the biennial Relay For Life event on Saturday evening. Photo: Geoff Leask

SHETLAND’S Relay for Life fundraising walks over the past decade have now raised in excess of a million pounds following last night’s staging of the biennial event.

Well over 1,300 people took part in the event, held at the Gilbertson Park for the first time, and so far £127,130.56 has been raised this year.

Committee event chairman Martin Henderson said it took the overall amount raised since the first event in 2006 to £1,080,130, a phenomenal effort and the equivalent of almost £50 per head of the islands’ population.

He said the figure raised this year was a “really, really good given the amount of folk was a lot less and the teams were about half”.

This year's organising committee for an event which has now raised over £1 million for Cancer Research UK since 2006. Photo: Geoff Leask

The committee said an “enormous thank you to everybody who’s helped to raise this amazing figure” – with the amount sure to rise significantly by the time fundraising concludes on 31 August.

“For Shetland again, it’s absolutely outstanding,” Henderson said on Sunday morning, “and that’s us to date for Relay for Life since 2006, we’ve raised £1,080,130.”

The 2014 event set numerous Cancer Research UK records, including the largest number of teams registered, the largest number of survivors taking part and the most money raised by a relay event.

This year’s proceedings kicked off with a family gala day at the Gilbertson – used this year due to construction work for the new Anderson High School, adjacent to the usual Clickimin running track venue – on Saturday afternoon.

The park was bathed in sunshine throughout the day and the weather remained calm and dry apart from a small shower during the night.

Greig Trout, originally from Dumfries, is a double cancer survivor and took part in CRUK's 'Every Moment Counts' campaign. Photo: Geoff Leask

Henderson said those taking part powered through and everyone seemed to be “remarkably fresh” having stayed up overnight.

He said Saturday evening’s survivors’ reception was a “super part” of the night. 

“We had a lot of humorous acts on, and that kept the mood light. We had Greig Trout, a speaker from south and a survivor twice over – once as a bairn, once as an adult, such an empowering speaker and his delivery of everything is just amazing.”

Later in the evening came the moving Candle of Hope ceremony where, with the sun down, participants lit candles to remember loved ones lost and celebrate survivors.

“It was lovely too,” Henderson said. “We had Veev singing a couple of songs, a word from the chair of Candle of Hope and then the roll of honour. Looking around seeing a few folk in tears, minding their loved ones, it was really emotional, and a poignant moment.”

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott described it as an “extraordinary achievement” and said the islands “can be very proud of how much money as been raised”.

“Many Shetlanders are directly touched by cancer,” he said. “The support that survivors received from so many on Saturday at the Relay For Life start was an emotional testament to the strength of feeling that exists throughout Shetland.”

Some of the Candles of Hope that were lit to remember loved ones lost and survivors of cancer. Photo: Geoff Leask