A REDCAR lady, who has been fundraising for nearly 50 years, is calling on women to join her and support life-saving research – by signing up for Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life.
Dorothy Hutton, 91, founded the Guisborough and District Friends of Cancer Research UK in 1969 while working as a lecturer at Redcar Technical College.
She said: “It was Autumn 1969 and we’d held a flower festival at my local church. We decided to give half the donations to help fund research into cancer, but couldn’t find a local group to give it to. So myself and a colleague at the college decided to start our own.
“We wrote to each of the local women’s group such as the Women’s Institute, Women’s Guild and asked them if they wanted to get involved and send two representatives to serve on the committee. There was a great response and we managed to get a strong committee together. We held our first fundraising event in 1970, a summer ball at the York Hotel, and we’ve never looked back.”
Since then the fundraising committee has raised around £400,000 for Cancer Research UK and it has been instrumental in developments of ground-breaking cancer treatment such as the newly licensed drug Rucaparib, developed here in the North East.
Rucaparib offers a lifeline to women with advanced ovarian cancer, who have received two or more prior chemotherapies and whose tumours have a BRCA gene mutation.
The drug is a result of 30 years of research funded by Cancer Research UK, in collaboration with Newcastle University and with support from the charity’s fundraisers such as Dorothy and the committee which has worked closely with the researchers involved.
Dorothy, who is still independent and driving, said: “When we started the group, fortunately I had no personal experience with cancer, but just felt there was a long way to go. Since then I’ve been able to meet researchers at the heart of new discoveries such as Rucaparib. Seeing their work and the labs where they bring their ideas to light is amazing and it’s what drives me and the committee to do all we can to support them.
“Over the years we’ve seen so many people affected by cancer we want to get involved and many of our own members have seen first hand the advances that have been made in diagnosis and treatment, including Wendy and Viv, and sadly we’ve also seen that there is still a way to go having lost our own treasurer to the disease.”
Viv Howlett, 66, joined the committee in 2008 after covering for Dorothy when she had to have a brief absence due to an operation.
Dorothy said: “I was out of action for about 6 weeks and up until then had been the Chair and Secretary of the group at the same time. It was a lot to manage and I knew Viv from college as I used to teach her shorthand, so asked if she would come and help, she’s been helping us ever since and joined as a full time member when she retired from work.”
Wendy Wilson, 69, of High Peak, began working with the group in 1990 having seen her own family affected by the disease but sadly since then she has faced her own breast cancer diagnosis and seen her daughter Rachel diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Wendy said: “I’m living proof that the research myself and the committee are helping to fund really works. We feel like we’re working alongside the researchers to help find a cure and better treatments.
“But you don’t have to be part of a committee to do your bit. Every year thousands of women take part in Race for Life where you help the fight against cancer. I know that research has the power to save lives and every woman who crosses the finish line at a Race for Life event is bringing us one step closer to the day when all cancers are cured.”
Wendy together with other members of the committee including Christine and Viv who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, support Race for Life each year by volunteering on the day and they’re calling on local women to join them by signing up to a local event.
Dorothy said: “With many Race for Life events taking place this summer there’s still time to get involved. If I can help fundraise at my age there’s no excuse!”
Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring women-only series events which raise millions of pounds for Cancer Research UK every year to help fund long-term research and pioneering trials, leading to new tests and kinder treatments.
Lisa Millett, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the region, said: “The fundraising that Dorothy has done over the years is staggering and really shows there is no age limit to helping beat cancer. We hope women across the area will follow in her footsteps and do there bit by signing up to their local Race for Life.
“One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives and we couldn’t continue our life-saving work without the support of the public. Money raised through Race for Life is helping to drive research to help beat over 200 different types of cancer – that’s why every person who crosses the finish line can make a real difference.”
To enter Race for Life today visit www.raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.
Help Guisborough and District Friends
If you’d like to help Guisborough and District Friends of Cancer Research UK they are always looking for new members and help with events. They hold monthly fundraisers such as flower shows, luncheons and quizzes. Contact Wendy on 01287 634571.