When Burntisland’s Cancer Research UK local fundraising committee was set up 60 years ago members could only join by invitation.
Today the system is a little more relaxed, but the original principles of raising money to help people suffering from cancer and their families remains the same.
And this year, as it celebrates 60 years of fundraising in the town, its feisty fundraisers – who between them have several hundred years of service – thanked all the townsfolk and local businesses who have helped it raise almost £400,000!
“We certainly couldn’t have done it without the people of Burntisland who have got behind every one of our fundraising events and helped us raise such a huge amount of money,” said Mary Brownlee, the committee’s chairman.
“We hold around six events every year and the residents never fail to give us their support, for which we are extremely grateful.”
The group started up in May 1956 as the British Empire Cancer Campaign Burntisland Committee with 30 members – two people were invited from each of the town’s thriving organisations at the time.
These included the churches, Women’s Guild, schools, doctors’ practices, the police, sports clubs, youth and social clubs, and the group met in the Porte Tearooms.
At that time the group consisted mainly of men, whereas today’s has only one male, Paul Graham, who is vastly outnumbered by around 14 other female core members.
The group, which meets in the Toll Centre, holds regular coffee mornings, whist drives, cheese and wine socials and silent auctions, as well as special themed events. During the 1990s it had a shop on the High Street and this is being resurrected in August when a fundraising pop up shop will be held for a week in the Upper Library Halls.
It will be opened by the former Singing Kettle, now Funbox’s Gary Coupland who has offered his support to the members and who will also be entertaining at a family funday event in the Toll Centre on June 24, which is free, but tickets must be obtained in advance.
This year’s schedule is a packed one, with a Valentine’s afternoon tea and a Stroll at the Toll events already raising over £2000.
Along with the family funday and an annual collection at Burntisland Highland Games, there will be a ‘Dine and Dance with Des and the Dingos’ event, with tickets all sold before they are even printed out!
December sees the volunteers out carol singing around the town to further boost funds.
To mark the big anniversary, on Saturday it is having an afternoon tea at the Kingswood Hotel for members of the committee, past and present and invited guests who have donated regularly.
“It’s just a way of saying thank you to everyone who has played a major role in the history of the group and it will be nice to get together and meet everyone in person,” said Mary.
Three of the fundraising group’s longest-serving members, Jennifer Kinnear, Aneris Grant and Moira Baynham, have exactly 90 years service between them, and Moira’s late husband was one of the group’s founder members. She joined the committee after he died from cancer 31 years ago.
And it is being personally affected by cancer which has spurred most of the current members to join.
Aneris Grant said: “My husband, mother and cousin all died from cancer within a short space of time and that’s what made me decide to join.
“There aren’t many families which haven’t been affected by this horrible disease and I think that’s one of the main reasons why people are so generous.”
Mary Lynch, who joined the group seven years ago is herself a cancer survivor. She said: “Sixteen years ago I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer which was at stage three. It is only through the grace of God that I am here.
“I was driven to support anything to do with cancer, and a few years later, when I had picked myself back up off the floor I was at a charity cream tea in the Music Hall in Burntisland being run by the group and I decided I wanted to become involved. I have been here for seven years now and it is just good to be able to give something back for the help I received at the time.”
The committee has met in many different places over the years, including church and community halls around the town. For the last three years it has met in the Toll Centre and members thanked the staff there for being so accommodating.
“We are always looking out for new members and people to help us out at events,” said Mary.
“Most of the people who have come along have stayed with us for many years.”
For more information about the group contact Mary on (01592) 874718.