Deeside woman raises thousands for cancer charity

Steve Gow, Eileen Collins and Jenny Gow after the sponsored head shave
Steve Gow, Eileen Collins and Jenny Gow after the sponsored head shave

A courageous Ballater woman has raised thousands of pounds for charity after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

With support from the community, Eileen Collins gathered £10,000 in just over a month for Heartburn Cancer UK (HCUK).

The charity heightens public awareness of the early symptoms of oesophageal cancer and encourages people to seek medical advice.

Spotting the symptoms can significantly improve survival rates.

Despite being given just nine months to live with the condition, Eileen, 62, is on a mission to do something positive to help warn others of the early signs.

Persistent heartburn – for three weeks or more – is something people should have checked out by a doctor but not many people know this.

Eileen said: “I want to raise awareness so that others in my position have a better chance of survival in the future.”

Her fundraising efforts started by holding a sale which raised £5150 for HCUK and £1000 each for Macmillan and Cancer Research UK.

Eileen’s close friends Jenny and Steve Gow then organised a sponsored head shave, raising more than £5700 pounds to add to the total.

Both these activities were actively and generously supported by the community in Ballater, where Eileen has lived all her life.

Jenny, who was awarded an MBE last year for her own charity and volunteering work, said: “The way Eileen has dealt with her diagnosis has been simply incredible and we are in awe of her attitude.

“Eileen has the biggest family of friends and we are honoured to be amongst them.”

The inspirational fundraiser is keen to try and participate in a sponsored walk early this year if her health allows. She can no longer swallow food or drink and is fed through a tube.

Before discovering the charity, Eileen had made her own leaflets to try and raise awareness.

Alistair Cheyne, a Heartburn Cancer UK trustee, said: “We are so grateful to Eileen and the Ballater community for all their fundraising efforts and support. What great community spirit.

“Medicine to alleviate heartburn is so easy to buy over the counter, people don’t realise if you are suffering for more than three weeks or taking self-help remedies all the time it’s time to get things checked.

“Getting seen earlier can make such a big difference.”