24 June 2015
A Scottish businessman with incurable cancer has received a volunteer award from Macmillan Cancer Support after raising thousands of pounds for the charity.
Neil Stevenson, whose family founded the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, was one of three Scottish winners at the charity’s Volunteers’ Award Conference in Manchester, held to mark the start of Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June). Also awarded were Mairi Campbell, a practice nurse from Barra who set up a cancer support group on the small Outer Hebridean island, and the Macmillan Campbeltown Committee which has raised nearly £200,000 for the charity since 1994.
Neil, from Langholm, helped raise £100,000 towards a £1 million appeal for the Macmillan Information and Support Centre at Dumfries Royal Infirmary in 2002. Ten years later, when he was diagnosed with terminal myeloma, he decided to write a book about his experiences of living with cancer and raised a further £103,000 through sponsorship.
The 69-year-old received the Sir Hugh Dundas Volunteer of the Year Award which recognises individuals who have made an exceptional, highly innovative and outstanding contribution over a significant period of time.
On hearing he had won the award, Neil said: 'It’s nice to be recognised but I didn’t do it looking for an award. I wanted to turn something bad into something good.
'It means I have been appreciated which is heart-warming. If I can do anything else in the future then I will.'
Mairi Campbell, 37, was recognised for her work with the Barra Cancer Support Group which helps people in the small island community access the specialist information and services that people affected by cancer need.
She said: 'I was completely blown away when I was told I had won the award. I didn't consciously enter into volunteering. I saw a gap in the care for people affected by cancer and no-one was willing to do anything to fill the gap so I decided to see if I could help. I never actually thought of myself as a volunteer until lately because I get so much out of what I do.'
Former chair Sheena Ramsay received the award on behalf of the Campbeltown Committee.
Despite being based in one of the most isolated parts of mainland UK, the committee has raised a staggering £185,944 since 1994, including £50,000 towards the cost of a new palliative care suite - The Sunshine Room - at Campbeltown Hospital.
She said: 'We were overwhelmed and honoured to receive this award as we are just ordinary people who are proud to serve on the committee, fundraising for our community.
'Coming from a small area we are aware, more than most, the effect cancer has on people and the cost involved in travelling for treatment.'
Janice Preston, General Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Scotland, said: “Macmillan was set up by a volunteer over 100 years ago and our volunteers are crucial in helping us to ensure that no one has to face cancer alone.
'We wanted to use Volunteers’ Week to say a well-deserved ‘thank you’ to all the people who give their time to help us. At Macmillan, we have a variety of volunteering roles and we always like to hear from people that might be interested in helping us out, because whether it’s minutes or months, hours or days, whatever time you can give really will matter.'
If you’re interested in finding out about how to volunteer for Macmillan please visit www.macmillan.org.uk/volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 1000 200.