A Fort William woman whose cousin died of cancer is part of an urgent campaign asking people to volunteer in Cancer Research UK shops.
Sharon Smith was heartbroken when Laura Barr died aged 51 after a four-year battle with a brain tumour. The cousins were born within months of each other and grew up together.
Now Sharon, who manages the Cancer Research UK Fort William shop, is spearheading the plea for people to sign up to volunteer in the charity’s 83 shops.
The Covid-19 crisis has prompted a nationwide call for help as Cancer Research UK battles to claw back millions of pounds in lost income.
Last year the branches raised more than £13.5 million. But in 2020 after months of devastating shop closures due to lockdown, the charity saw the number of volunteers drop by nearly half.
Shop closures and fundraising event cancellations mean the charity is expecting a staggering £160 million drop in income across the UK in the year ahead.
Sharon, 53, knows exactly how vital it is that funds continue to be raised for research into gentler and more effective treatments for cancer.
She thinks every day of Laura, a former staff nurse at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, who died from brain cancer on March 14, 2018.
The manageress of the High Street store in Fort William said: “I miss Laura’s laughter, her smile and that sparkle which was always in her eyes.
“I was so proud of Laura and I know that through her job as a staff nurse she helped many people.
“All through her illness, Laura was thinking about others and about how she could support research so other families would benefit from better treatments for cancer in the future.
“Laura raised more than £5,000 when she took part in Race for Life with us after being diagnosed so I think she’d understand exactly why now more than ever it’s important to keep things going.
“Sadly the curve doesn’t flatten for cancer so we’re appealing for people to give the gift of their time this winter and volunteer to help in the Cancer Research UK shops in Scotland.
“If anyone out there is thinking of volunteering, I’d say don’t hesitate. It’s a great feeling to be part of a community helping to beat cancer and you’d get a very warm welcome.”
Cancer Research UK spokeswoman in Scotland, Lauren Robertson, said: “We take the safety of all volunteers and staff extremely seriously and we have strict Covid procedures in place to enable our shops to operate safely. No experience is necessary to apply to volunteer.”