Cancer charity heroes stepback after five decades
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
STALWART fundraisers and founding members of the Teesdale Branch of Cancer Research UK group are “stepping back” from committee roles after a combined 94 years at the helm.
Over the past five decades, Maureen Bainbridge and Brenda Thwaites have organised coffee mornings, sponsored walks, domino drives, afternoon teas, Christmas fares and have helped to raise more than £1million to further research into cures.
After helping launch the group 47 years ago, Mrs Bainbridge, 85, and Mrs Thwaites, 82, the last of the founding members, have been integral to the charity group.
However, they have decided to take a back seat, stepping down from their long-time roles as chairwoman and treasurer of the committee, which all started with a musical show to entertain Cotherstone WI members and “snowballed from there”.
Mrs Bainbridge said: “We joined Cotherstone WI to keep it going really.
“They were always searching for people to do turns for members’ night, so there were about 12 of us who agreed to do a show, 12 Countries in 30 Minutes.”
The musical entertainment was such a hit with WI members, it was suggested the ladies put on a performance in the village hall for the community.
Mrs Thwaites added: “Everybody enjoyed it and so we agree and raised some money for charity and it just sort of snowballed from there.”
They have helped organise countless fundraising events over the past five decades.
In 2005 they were guests of the Queen at Edinburgh for a garden party, and acknowledging their incredible support over the years, Cancer Research UK awarded both ladies an honorary fellowship, Flame of Hope Award – Mrs Thwaites in 2017 and Mrs Bainbridge in 2019.
Last year the committee were also awarded a national Fundraising in the Community Award by the charity after celebrating raising more than £1million for life-saving research in the North East.
Jan Leafe, local relationship manager for Teesdale at Cancer Research UK, said: “It has been an absolute honour to work with Maureen and Brenda and it’s great that they are still going to be supporting members of the Teesdale
Cancer Research UK committee.
“At Cancer Research UK we simply couldn’t do the work that we do without such amazing volunteers and their roles of chairwoman and treasurer has been integral to the group.
“As founder members of the committee, Maureen and Brenda have organised a host of events over the previous 47 years, raising funds that have contributed to huge advances in the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer. I would like to say a huge thank you to both for your amazing support.”
Mrs Bainbridge said: “We are still going to be there in the background supporting the committee but it’s time to let the younger ones take over.”
Mrs Thwaites added: “Everything is still going to run as it did and we have had a lot of fun.
“We have had some really lovely supporters over the years. Some people would turn up to our coffee mornings even if they didn’t want to go out.”
The chairwoman’s baton has been passed to the next generation with Mrs Bainbridge’s daughter, Kathleen Iceton, taking over and Sue Warnes has agreed to take over as treasurer.
The committee’s next fundraising outing will be a collection outside Morrisons supermarket, in Barnard Castle, on Saturday, July 10, and bingo nights have made a return to the town’s cricket club with the next scheduled for July 14.
Committee member Pam Ashmore added: “It has been difficult fundraising during the pandemic but if anyone is thinking of organising an event to support cancer research, we do have lots of flyers, posters and online fundraising pages available to support.
“If they can do it through our group the money raised in Teesdale stays in the North East for research instead of going to London.”
For more information contact Pam Ashmore on 01833 638632.