South Shields charity champions reach £400,000 milestone for Cancer Research UK
Two well-known South Tyneside charity champions are celebrating after raising a phenomenal £400,000 for Cancer Research UK over the last 17 years.
First established in 1936, the South Shields fundraising arm for Cancer Research UK is the longest running branch in the country, raising in excess of £1 million to help fund vital research into the disease.
Husband and wife, John and Hazel Pickering have been involved with the for charity for more than 30 years and in 2002, John took over as coordinator of the branch when the committee was at risk of disbanding.
Despite having around 30 members at one point, the couple now run the committee by themselves.
In 2017, their work and dedication was recognised by Cancer Research UK when they were handed an honorary fellowship award.
“Raising this amount of money is huge for us, because we’re only very small,” said John, who first joined the committee in 1987, one month after his father passed away from cancer.
“I didn't want to see other people suffer the way he did and for me, the only way to do that is by research to find a cure for cancer,” continued the 70-year-old.
“They’ve made advances in the last 33 years and now the survival rate is much higher, but since then, friends and family have lost people to cancer so you just keep going.
“Everybody will know somebody affected by cancer.”
John and Hazel recently joined forces with local cancer fundraisers, the Lavender Lasses and continue to organise activities and collections throughout the year, including with national campaigns such as Stand Up to Cancer.
Over the years John says he has been genuinely touched by the generosity of the people in South Tyneside.
“We were in a depressed area, yet people decided to form a committee to raise money for cancer research. That's amazing. People in this area are so generous, that's been the highlight for me,” he continued.
“It is very rewarding, people come up to you talk about their experiences and really appreciate what you're doing.
“There’s no way I could ever stop. What we’d like to do now is go for the half a million - we're well on the way.”