We began fundraising for CCLG – then UKCCSG - shortly after Jenni’s death from Rhabdomyosarcoma in 2001; this was at the suggestion of her consultant Dr Paul Henry from the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, that this was a most deserving beneficiary.
Fundraising efforts have been supported by her former school and classmates - Jenni was just 15 when she died - and a circle of family and friends who have committed themselves to raising funds in her memory. In 2002 staff and pupils at Jenni's old school raised funds by abseiling down the Europa Hotel in Belfast! Her aunt Mrs Janet Thomson and husband Davie are in North Yorkshire and have organised events in that area. Their various fundraising endeavours have included coffee mornings, wine and cheese evenings, and curry nights. Davie took part in the Lakeland Top Ten Challenge in 2002, this involved walking 57 miles between the mountains and a total ascent of 30,100 feet, all completed in 30 hours 16 minutes.He is currently in training for the Leeds Half Marathon in May 2012. Paul Boulton, a family friend, ran the London Marathon in 2004 and is now training for the Etap Du Dales, this is a 112 mile cycling challenge over Buttertubs Pass and Tan Hill. He is aiming to complete it in under 7 hours! Janet and her team are planning another fundraising event in their local village hall.
In Northern Ireland we have had runners in the Belfast Marathon Relay and Whitehead Road Race, held quizzes, our annual Formal Dinner, and we have benefited from the annual dance show of Whitehead Dance Works, run by Jenni's sister Debbie. A charity football match was organised by Wallace McFall, chairman of the local football team, Whitehead Eagles.
In June 2009, on one of the hottest days of the year, Davie lined up with around 16,000 runners to take part in the Edinburgh Marathon. After passing through Prestonpans, Cockenzie, Port Seton and the grounds of Gosford House, he crossed the finish line at Musselburgh Racecourse, watched by cheering crowds in the stand.
Each November there is a Victorian fair in the picturesque seaside town of Whitehead in Carrickfergus. Organised by the Whitehead Community Association, it attracts people from far and wide with everyone entering into the spirit of the occasion. The local butcher has a 'hog roast' set up outside his shop, the staff in the shops dress up, there are stilt walkers, street performers, stalls selling toys, sweets, and lots of goodies. Elsie French and I dress up as Victorian ladies and push a proper Victorian Pram filled with home made fudge which we sell to all and sundry.
In 2012, we organised a raffle of a giant teddy bear, a nearly new clothes night and of course the annual formal on 13 October.
Thanks must also go to the local pub, The Whitecliff Inn in Whitehead, as the manager Claire McAleese allows us to use their premises for our mulled wine and mince pie evening at Christmas. Last year they held “A Night at the Races” and the proceeds helped with our fundraising.
As of October 2015, an amazing ££95,483.80 has been raised to help with the research into Rhabdomyosarcoma and improve outcomes for children fighting this disease in the future.