Video calling has been hailed as a great way to keep in touch during the pandemic, and now one local charity is using it to celebrate what would have been the biggest weekend in its fundraising calendar.
Friends of ANCHOR was due to take over the Beach Ballroom this week for its annual Courage on the Catwalk and Brave events, which see 48 first-time models take to the catwalk for a professional fashion show.
Each of the models has faced their own cancer or haematology diagnosis, and the shows focus on confidence and camaraderie first and foremost, while they are also the biggest annual fundraiser for the charity.
Under normal circumstances 2,750 guests and around 200 volunteers would have cheered on the models throughout their five combined shows, beginning with Brave which would have been on May 7 and 8 and Courage on the Catwalk which would have taken place on May 9 and 10.
Friends of ANCHOR marked the occasion digitally, holding a virtual celebration which saw the models, organisers and event partners raising a toast, taking part in a Brave-themed quiz and even tackling a catwalk challenge.
The charity’s chairman Jim Milne joined in online for the virtual toast on Thursday May 7.
He said: “We were all deeply saddened when we had to postpone these special shows but we couldn’t let the dates pass without marking them in some way. It was great to see so many of the models getting involved and having a good time and we’re looking forward to the real thing when we’re able to safely set a new date.”
Friends of ANCHOR also shared a specially made video online, introducing all 24 Brave gents wearing their branded Brave T-shirts – with the same treatment yet to come for their Courage counterparts.
Going virtual with the models is not the only effort the charity has made to mark the events though. Courage and Brave generate the charity’s highest fundraising each year and postponing them has had a huge knock-on effect on income.
‘Raise a Toast; Raise a Donation’ is a week-long campaign by the charity to raise much-needed funds.
Director Sarah-Jane Hogg explained: “This period we’re all living through is unlike anything we’ve experienced in the charity’s 22-year history. Throughout lockdown, we have continued our commitment to patients and their families, and we’ve stepped up to provide direct support to NHS Grampian to help deal with the pandemic.
“We have, and will continue to fund daily, nutritious lunches for staff, the salaries of our six ward assistants who deliver vital non-medical support within the wards, multiple additional pieces of equipment which have directly helped NHSG deal with the pandemic - and patient-specific initiatives including our virtual wellbeing support and accredited mindfulness course for patients.
“Through our Raise a Toast campaign we hope those who would have joined us for Brave and Courage this weekend will pour a glass, raise a toast to our models and make a small donation the charity – the cost of a glass of wine at the show, the taxi fare to get home or the new top or shirt they bought to look the part. These donations will play a hugely valued part in keeping the support we offer going, now and in the future. Every penny donated goes directly to the cause, as our running and administration costs are fully covered by Balmoral Group, something that more than ever, we are incredibly grateful for.”
Those wishing to support the fundraising efforts can text BRAVE to 70085 to donate £5 towards that event, or COURAGE to 70085 to donate £5 to Courage on the Catwalk. Use the hashtag #raiseatoastraiseadonation. To donate a different amount, text BRAVE or COURAGE followed by your donation amount, for example BRAVE 7 to donate £7.
Any money donated in this way will go towards the events’ fundraising totals but will be ringfenced immediately to deliver direct and crucial support for patients, their families and staff during this unprecedented time.