Outstanding Supporter Award winner 2024

Published: 22 May 2024
The Isle of Lewis and Harris Macmillan Fundraising Group is the winner of the Outstanding Supporter Award at the Thanks to You Awards 2024.  

'We’re always trying to come up with new ideas to keep the community engaged'

A large group of people in dark clothing are standing together. Some of them are wearing Macmillan branded lanyards. They appear to be indoors.

The Isle of Lewis and Harris Macmillan Fundraising Group in the Western Isles is one of Macmillan’s most productive Fundraising Committees in the UK. The Group has supported Macmillan for five decades and by the end of 2023 it had raised a total of £1.4 million. This amount is even more incredible given the community’s remote island location. 

The multigenerational Group comprises 28 members from all walks of life – the youngest is 19 years old while the eldest is over eighty. Many members are from different generations of the same family, including the Group’s chair, Mairi Mackenzie, whose mother was a member long before her. 

‘The Group was set up by a Macmillan nurse on the island 45 years ago,’ explains Mairi. ‘It’s gone from strength to strength since then. One of our members has been with the Group for 35 years. We worked out recently that between all of us we have notched up over 300 years of volunteering for Macmillan!’ 

The Group’s events are the stuff of local legend. Their regular calendar includes everything from street collections to bingo nights, and from coffee mornings to race nights. They've innovated with events such as their 'New with Tags' clothes sale and fashion show, and 'Gin and Jammies' – a girls’ night that features a human version of the board game ‘Hungry Hippos’! 

‘We’re always trying to come up with new ideas to keep the community engaged,’ says Mairi. ‘We try to make sure there’s something for everyone, so there’s plenty for children and families, as well as men-only and women-only events. We try to keep everyone happy!’ 

Beyond fundraising, Mairi explains that 10 years ago the Group engaged with Macmillan to consider how best to provide further non-clinical support to cancer patients and their families across the Western Isles given the remoteness of the area, high fuel poverty, and the additional difficulties arising from attending mainland treatment centres. With advice and financial support from Macmillan, Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative (WICCI) was established as a Charitable Trust 8 years ago.  

‘Our Fundraising Group have strong links with WICCI and four of our members serve as Trustees on the WICCI Board,’ explains Mairi.  

Working across the Western Isles, WICCI provides a range of non-clinical support services to cancer patients and families, including alternative therapies, counselling, group sessions, advice and information, a wig fitting service.  

‘So many local patients and families across our community have benefitted from these services. It’s a great way for people to witness first-hand how their donations are supporting patients, and it means that people are all the more generous and supportive with our fundraising efforts. 

I’m so proud to be part of this group of committed and passionate volunteers. We are delighted to receive this award and be acknowledged for what we do as a very small, remote community. As far as we’re concerned, we are just facilitators. This award honours the generosity of the communities across Western Isles for the support that they give.’ 

Find out more about the Thanks to You Awards.

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