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Suzie’s special reason for hosting CancerCare Christmas Fair

Suzie Gillow Reynolds with one of the Christmas trees at Leighton Hall getting ready for the Christmas Fair

[E]very year Suzie Reynolds of Leighton Hall hosts a Christmas Fair in aid of CancerCare and she has a special reason for doing so.

Suzie was on the original fundraising committee which helped to establish the pioneering charity in the early ‘80s and has supported it ever since.

At the Christmas Fair on Wednesday, December 6, Leighton Hall’s sumptuous rooms will be filled with stalls run by local businesses and craftspeople.

Suzie loves the event as it is a highlight of the local calendar and enables her to support a charity that is dear to her heart.

Suzie said: “I was involved almost since CancerCare started.

“It was the vision of Professor Malcolm McIlmurray, a leading oncologist, who set out to build a comprehensive cancer service. An advisory group was set up and I was part of the fundraising committee chaired by Peter Cole.

“It was decided that we needed a centre in Lancaster and luckily Slynedales came on the market. It was heaven sent! We did all sorts of fundraising for it and what a joy with was when we got it.

“It was as if it was meant to be. It was quite extraordinary.”

The committee was able to secure the purchase of Slynedales and the building was eventually opened in August 1991. In more recent years CancerCare has also opened the Lakes Centre in Kendal and the Trinity Church Centre in Barrow.

Suzie has had a great fondness for the charity since that time: “Having been involved from the start, there is always the wish to remain involved; to see where it’s going and what it is doing.

“In the early days there wasn’t a service like CancerCare in this part of the world and I still think there’s nothing like it.

“It was pioneering and it was very exciting to be involved from the word go.

“When you are lucky enough to be part of something like CancerCare, you feel that a tiny part of you is in it. It’s your baby in a way.”

Suzie said the Christmas Fair is one way she can support the charity: “It’s not just important that money is raised – it’s spreading the word and letting people know about the services for people with cancer and their families.

“The Christmas Fair started as a coffee morning and just grew and grew.

“It was a chance for local people to support CancerCare and to come and have coffee and sit and chat by the fire.

“The event is fun and a bit different as it all happens in amongst where we live. There are stalls in most of our rooms.

“It has kept its roots and we have great support from groups like the ‘Yealand Ladies’ with their tombola and other local people.

“I feel very strongly that it needs to stay local with local businesses selling affordable and unusual Christmas presents. I love it because they set up the day before and I get to have a bit of a sneak preview and decide on the presents I’m going to buy.”

The Christmas Fair will also feature carol singing by Yealand Church of England Primary School at 12.30pm: “It’s a lovely school and as Christmas is so much about children, it does make it magical.”

The CancerCare Christmas Fair will take place on Wednesday, December 6, from 10am to 2pm with carol singing by Yealand Curch of England Primary School at 12.30pm. Entry is £4 Including coffee and mince pies. Leighton Hall is signposted from the A6 near Carnforth. Please follow the road signs as sat nav systems are not reliable in this area.

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