LADIES in PINK SCARVES – The Background Story
Ladies in Pink Scarves is a Newcastle based registered charity which funds initiatives for those affected by cancer in the North East.
It was founded by Karen Verrill, who is a Secondary Breast Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist and who was the 2011 British Journal of Nursing, Oncology Nurse of the Year, and her dear friend and secretary Margaret Weddle.
After Karen raised £25,000 in sponsorship for cancer charities on a Great Wall of China Trek in 2006, their eyes were opened to the overwhelming generosity and local support for those with cancer and they set up and ran LADIES In PINK SCARVES. The name was inspired by a young woman who died from breast cancer and who was a big supporter of the earliest fundraising efforts – she had been painted for a breast cancer art exhibition in a portrait reminiscent of Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” while wearing a pink scarf as “The Girl in a Pink Headscarf.”
Ladies in Pink Scarves funds patient focussed activities above and beyond conventional cancer treatments. Over the years it has provided complementary therapies in the community for people who have had any type of cancer, auricular acupuncture and a monthly nurse led “drop in” breast cancer clinic/support group.
When there has been any surplus, contributions have been made to other local and national causes. Donations have included £5,000 towards an ultrasound scanner for the Breast Unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, £10,000 to The Northern Centre for Cancer Care (NCCC) for complementary therapies for in-patients undergoing cancer treatment, £12,000 to Charlie Bear for Cancer Care – the NCCC charity, of which £10,000 was specifically towards the acquisition of a “Cyber Knife” stereotactic radiotherapy machine. Other donations of £1,000 – £5,000 have been given to the Breast Cancer Campaign, Breast Cancer Care and Cancer Research UK. In December 2012 the charity covered the entire cost of the NCCC Teenagers and Young Adults Christmas party, including a meal out in Newcastle and tickets for the Theatre Royal Pantomime. It has also
made donations to individuals with cancer in times of financial hardship
recognising their needs at particularly difficult times.
Sadly, Margaret, Karen’s secretary, became a ‘patient’ herself and died from Breast Cancer in 2009. Since then Karen has run the charity herself, with support with fundraising from some of her patients and their families and friends. There have been no staff or fundraising costs – all the money raised has gone directly to the activities and causes that LIPS has supported.
In what turned out to be a ground-breaking event in October of 2011, 25 of Karen’s patients took to the catwalk as models in a charity fashion show. The event raised funds for Ladies in Pink Scarves and promoted awareness of breast cancer to the audience with the added bonus of creating a strong supportive network for participants. More were to follow!
Karen was appointed as Centre Head for the new Maggie’s Centre in Newcastle in February 2013. The Centre opened in May that year and provides a unique programme of support for people with all types of cancer and their families and friends. To celebrate Maggie’s Newcastle’s 1st birthday in May 2014, Karen, along with some of the Ladies in Pink
Scarves supporters, arranged the Ladies in Pink Scarves 4th Black Tie Fashion Show & Ball. It was such a success that the 5th followed in October 2015 and the 6th took place in October 2016 as a result of which a further £16,000 were donated to support the amazing work at Maggie’s Newcastle.
The models, both men and women, all have or have had cancer, will be dancing their way along the catwalk in another fantastic fundraising event at the Gosforth Park Marriott.
Ladies in Pink Scarves have so far donated £ 65,000 to Maggie’s Newcastle while also using some funds to support people affected by cancer in other ways.
Thank you for supporting the Ladies in Pink Scarves