From strength to strength

Fundraiser Kath­leen looks back on a great year for fund to help tragic cou­ples

Lennox Herald - - THE BIG READ - Linzi Wat­son

A tire­less Bellsmyre cam­paigner ded­i­cated to help­ing cou­ples fac­ing an im­pos­si­ble hurdle af­ter her fam­ily was hit by tragedy has marked her most suc­cess­ful fundrais­ing year yet.

Kath­leen MacGre­gor, 68, has now helped gather a mile­stone £50,000 for the Joan MacGre­gor Mat­ri­mo­nial Fund which helps cou­ples marry be­fore ter­mi­nal cancer tears them apart.

This £50,000 – £10,131 of which was raised this year alone – has helped a to­tal of 43 tragic cou­ples.

Kath­leen’s daugh­ter-in-law Joan was just 42 when she was given 10 days to live af­ter a chest in­fec­tion quickly led to a crush­ing cancer di­ag­no­sis in a dizzy­ing turn of events that left the close fam­ily reel­ing.

She had been with her part­ner Charles, Kath­leen’s first son, for nine years but their busy lives took over and they never got round to tyng the knot. Re­al­is­ing their wishes, the cou­ple’s fam­i­lies ral­lied around and or­gan­ised their wed­ding – in one day.

Joan and Charles, who had shared a home in Castle­green Street, made it down an ‘aisle’ in the day room at the Beat­son Cancer Cen­tre, where Joan was be­ing cared for, in a poignant cer­e­mony which had ev­ery­one in tears.

But trag­i­cally, two days later Joan slipped into a coma she didn’t wake from. She died the fol­low­ing week, on May 16, 2009.

Money col­lected from Joan’s fu­neral was used to set up the fund.

Ini­tially, un­der the guid­ance of Joan’s con­sul­tant Dr Al­li­son Mitchell, it was planned to use it to help pay for mar­riage li­cences – but it snow­balled from there.

And reach­ing the mas­sive £50,000 fundrais­ing tar­get has been the lat­est mile­stone.

Kath­leen said: “When we first started up, this was a tar­get way in the dis­tance – I am so de­lighted we have man­aged to achieve it.

“The fundrais­ing to­tal now sits at £50,256.71. Last year alone we raised a to­tal of £10,130.63. This was our most suc­cess­ful year yet.”

Kath­leen cred­its the sup­port from great friends and the lo­cal com­mu­nity for help­ing reach the fan­tas­tic tally – but she has worked tire­lessly to make this hap­pen.

From her home in St An­drew’s Brae, she makes raf­fle prizes, or­gan­ises ma­jor fundrais­ing events and cre­ates bags of Rein­deer Dust which she sold in 11 lo­cal shops this fes­tive sea­son – with ev­ery penny raised go­ing straight to the fund.

Kath­leen said: “I think there has been a lot of pos­i­tive aware­ness this year, more peo­ple know about us and the gen­eros­ity has been won­der­ful.

“When you have been plug­ging away for so long, some­thing like this re­ally spurs you on.

“I al­ways say ‘ev­ery penny counts’ and I re­ally mean it. We are so grate­ful for all the do­na­tions big and small.”

For those cou­ples who turn to the fund, the only two re­quire­ments are that one per­son has a ter­mi­nal prognosis and that this per­son is be­ing

treated through the Beat­son. Cou­ples are as­sessed by the Beat­son staff and given grants of £1000.

The fam­ily don’t have any in­volve­ment with the cou­ples but they cover the run­ning costs so that all cash raised goes straight into the pot.

A group of sup­pli­ers of­fer their ser­vices in part­ner­ship with the fund, and lo­cal busi­nesses have been thanked for their con­tin­ued sup­port.

But with the Beat­son the place of treat­ment for cancer pa­tients from Forth Val­ley, Ar­gyll and Bute and Ayr­shire – as well as West Dun­bar­ton­shire and Glas­gow – Kath­leen hopes to ex­pand this list soon.

Kath­leen said: “We have a book of sup­pli­ers and the cou­ple can look through and pick what they want.

“It gives them con­trol of their day – this is prob­a­bly the last thing they have con­trol over. “

For many peo­ple who are floored by a sud­den ter­mi­nal cancer di­ag­no­sis, a mar­riage and the le­gal rights and ben­e­fits that come with it are top pri­or­ity for prac­ti­cal as well as emo­tional rea­sons. In Joan’s case, her dev­as­tat­ing ter­mi­nal di­ag­no­sis came out of the blue.

Joan, who worked at the BP petrol sta­tion in Mil­ton, first fell ill with what she thought was a chest in­fec­tion.

Kath­leen told the Len­nox Her­ald pre­vi­ously: “Her lungs were fill­ing up with fluid.

“She was in the Vale for a few days and then she was home for a week, then sent to Gart­navel to get her lungs drained.

“They drained them and within a few days they were full again.

“So they sent her for full body scans and re­sults showed she had cancer.”

In April 2009, doc­tors found can­cer­ous le­sions in Joan’s lung, cancer in her leg and also in her pan­creas.

They sent her home for the May week­end to re­turn on the Tues­day for chemo­ther­apy. But then Charles got a call on the Wed­nes­day to say she had 10 days left to live.

Kath­leen said: “They said chemo would have been a waste of time.”

The cou­ple de­cided they wanted to get mar­ried and Dr Mitchell ar­ranged for Charles to go to Park Cir­cus in Glas­gow on the Thurs­day morn­ing to do the mar­riage pa­per­work – she gave them a let­ter to say it was an emer­gency.

The fam­ily were told on that day that the wed­ding was tak­ing place at 1.30pm the fol­low­ing day, a Fri­day.

Sadly, a week af­ter the cer­e­mony, Joan passed away with Charles, Kath­leen, hus­band Char­lie, Charles and Joan’s sis­ter Ber­nadette at her bed­side.

Kath­leen said: “We were up vis­it­ing her and chat­ting away, be­cause they tell you hear­ing is the last thing to go.

“I was blether­ing and the nurses asked us to step out for a minute.

“Then they came run­ning along the cor­ri­dor say­ing that she was go­ing.

“We ran back. We were only there for a cou­ple of min­utes be­fore she died.

“We might have known she was dy­ing but it doesn’t make it any eas­ier.

“Sadly I had been in this po­si­tion be­fore and I have been since.

“You ei­ther sit down and give up or you get up and you get on.

“I am ‘roll your sleeves up and get in there girl’ and I think that’s the way you have to be if you want to get through it.”

She added: “I want to thank ev­ery­one who has sup­ported the fund so far and we will con­tinue to raise as much as pos­si­ble for cou­ples who find them­selves in this po­si­tion.”

●Kath­leen runs auc­tions on her Face­book page www.face­book.com/ Joan MacGre­gor Mat­ri­mo­nial Fund/ where you can also keep up to date with the lat­est fundrais­ers.

You can do­nate to the fund by vis­it­ing www.justgiv­ing.com/ fundrais­ing/Kath­leen-MacGre­gor.

You can also give money by tex­ting 70070 us­ing JMMF99 £ plus the amount you wish to do­nate.

Kath­leen is also ap­peal­ing for any un­wanted Christ­mas gifts as do­na­tions which she can auc­tion or use as raf­fle or tombola prizes to raise funds.

Con­tact her via the Face­book page if you can help or call her on 07531 441 060. Any busi­nesses who wish to join the list of sup­pli­ers are also urged to get in touch.

More peo­ple know about us and the gen­eros­ity has been won­der­ful Kath­leen MacGre­gor

Cel­e­bra­tion Joan and Charles on their wed­ding day

Su­per­man’s help Kath­leen shares a joke with son Charles

Spe­cial Joan MacGre­gor on her wed­ding day in 2009

Happy Joan, from Dum­bar­ton, and her fam­ily were floored by her ter­mi­nal di­ag­no­sis

Un­sung heroes Kath­leen and son Charles with their Great Scot Award

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