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In Pictures: Women of all ages unite to inspire others in Courage on the Catwalk

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Louise Paterson encapsulates the qualities that explain why Courage on the Catwalk is such an inspirational event.

Backstage at Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom yesterday, as she prepared to join the other 22 models at the Friends of Anchor show, the 48-year-old mother-of-four from Lyne of Skene admitted she was “shaking”.

But then, when she and her colleagues walked out in front of the audience, she was transformed.

The women strut their stuff for Courage on the Catwalk 2018 on Saturday at Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom. Pictures by Colin Rennie

She said: “I found my inner diva, my catwalk persona, and it was amazing.

“A few weeks ago, when we first met, none of us had ever done anything like this before.

“To see the other women getting dressed up and coming together as a team was a wonderful experience and it really gave us the wow factor.”

Mrs Paterson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and endured surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

After being given the all-clear she decided it was time to grab life by the scruff of the neck.

That positivity was shared by Sarah Goodyear, 50, from New Byth near Turriff, who was also told she had breast cancer – in her case in 2016.

Understandably it was devastating news and she subsequently had intensive treatment and a mastectomy.

But after being nominated for Courage by her youngest daughter, Millie – she has two other children, Daisy and Matthew – Mrs Goodyear, who described herself as having “crazy chemo curls and a wonky chest”, has had a ball at the Ballroom.

She said: “I was really nervous when I woke up before the shows but the way we have all come together is incredible and there was a genuine electricity when we went on stage.

“You can’t underestimate how much this brilliant event means to us all. We are friends for life now, we are spurring everybody else on and these girls are really inspirational. There is this big feeling of ‘Go, Go, Go!”

The show proved emotional for some as one model is hugged by a member of the audience

Courage was launched in 2013 as a means of putting a more positive face on cancer and there was no doubting the adrenaline rush and va-va-voom of the participants yesterday.

The youngest, Jordanne Atkin, 26, from Inverurie, survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has gone dog sledding in Iceland, taken part in a freefall abseil and glimmered on the catwalk alongside the oldest model, Edna Cadenhead, 81, from Aberdeen.

The latter was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on her birthday last year but flung herself into the rehearsals with the encouragement of her family, including her great-granddaughter Frankie.

Mrs Cadenhead immediately paid tribute to the staff and volunteers at FoA.

She said: “The nurses, the staff and the Anchor girls are always so nice, so upbeat, and there is plenty of banter. This rubs off on the patients and there is no doom and gloom.”

The bond between the Courage participants and the audience was mesmerising yesterday, as the models embraced their routines from “Ladies who Lunch” to “Date Night in the City” with passion, precision, and the professionalism instilled in them by Premiere Productions.

As Mrs Paterson added: “FoA has been a tremendous help to us and Courage really is such an exciting and entertaining fun event.

“We are blessed to have this life and I will always treasure the friendships I have made with all the other models. It just means so much.”

There was a gleam in her eye when she arrived on the catwalk. For these women, this was a chance to create new stories beyond the cancer ward and make their loved ones proud.

They rose to the challenge superbly.

Courage on the Catwalk models and organisers pay tribute to Kathy Parfitt

There was a celebratory air to most of the proceedings at Courage on the Catwalk over the weekend.

But the 23 models and the event organisers, Friends of Anchor, also paid tribute to Kathy Parfitt, who had been selected to appear at the event but succumbed to breast cancer just a few weeks ago.

Jimmy Milne CBE, chairman of FoA, said: “Sadly, Kathy lost her fight before she could take to the Courage catwalk but she will be in our hearts and in our thoughts as her 23 fellow models bravely take to the runway.”

Mrs Parfitt, wife of Robert and mother to nine-year-old Charlotte, had lived in Blackburn and was described by several of the other models as a “beautiful lass”.

Her husband added in the CotC programme: “If Kathy was here today she would want to convey a few simple messages.

“Firstly, to the staff at ARI, Friends of Anchor, Maggie’s and Macmillan; thank you for your warmth, love and care.

“Then, to everyone here today and tonight; with your help, we can beat this dreadful disease, so that my loss might be one of the last.

“And finally, to all my Courage sisters; be strong, love your life and those around you and never ever give up.”