The search is on for men and women across the north-east to take part in our iconic fashion shows.
Courage on the Catwalk and Brave have become two of Friends of ANCHOR’s flagship events and have raised more than £1.7 million to support cancer and haematology patients.
In 2024, the fashion shows will be bigger than ever as the event is moving to P&J Live in Aberdeen.
It is also a very special year for Courage on the Catwalk, which marks its 10th anniversary show.
Now Friends of ANCHOR is on the hunt for local people to take to the catwalk.
Each show will feature 24 men and 24 women who have faced, or are going through, a cancer or haematology diagnosis.
The selected models will be professionally styled and trained by production and model agency Premiere Productions UK.
Brave made me 'me' again'
Paul Stewart believes Brave gave him back his confidence after his battle with non-hodgkin lymphoma. He even credits it with giving him the “bravery” to quit his job of 15 years and start up his own joinery business.
“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done – it turned me back into me again,” the 38-year-old, from Rothes, said.
“I would recommend it to anyone.
“Being able to have open, frank conversations with other people who understand what you’ve been through or how you’re feeling was one of the best things about the Brave experience.”
Mr Stewart was diagnosed with non-hodgkin lymphoma in 2019, after a crumb-sized lump on his neck kept growing to eventually the size of a golf ball. His wife Jan marched him to the doctor and after months of tests, it was confirmed as cancer.
Mr Stewart, dad to Riley, 12, and Fletcher, nine, was given the all-clear in 2020 after six months of chemotherapy and Rixtuimab, and took part in Brave 2022.
“Brave gave me the encouragement and bravery to go out on my own,” Mr Stewart added.
“My boys especially see the difference in me since Brave. Now that I have my own business, I schedule work around them so I’m spending more time with them."
'It's much more than a show'
Sarah-Jane Hogg, director of Friends of ANCHOR, said the move to P&J Live shows the popularity of Courage and Brave and described the experience for models as “much more than just show weekend”.
“It’s quite surreal to think it’s 10 years since the first ladies took to the catwalk,” she said. “We made a commitment right back at the start that it wasn’t just a show, it’s an experience our models get. There’s so much heart behind it.
“It’s so much more than show weekend. The models get professional training at rehearsals, there’s fittings and there’s social gatherings – a lot of the Brave and Courage experience is building up confidence and empowerment.”
Christina Farquhar certainly recognises the impact taking part in the very first Courage on the Catwalk has had on her confidence, describing it as an “experience of a lifetime”.
She signed up for the inaugural 2013 show to “push herself out her comfort zone” while also supporting a friend going through the ANCHOR Unit.
Mrs Farquhar herself was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2010, shortly after turning 30.
The Monymusk Primary teacher said: “I couldn’t quite believe it when I was selected for Courage on the Catwalk.
“I had a three-month old and couldn’t really believe it was happening. After the first night I was worried I’d made a big mistake, but we all got on so well – I made friends for life, we’re all still in touch. It was all an amazing experience.”
The mother-of-three, from Cluny, now regularly volunteers for Friends of ANCHOR and is part of the Red Army on show days.
“It’s amazing to go back and see everyone take to the stage,” she said. “It’s incredible how much it’s grown over the last 10 years. I’m incredibly proud to have been part of that first show.”
How to get involved
Brave will take place at P&J Live on May 16 and 17, followed by the two Courage shows on May 18 and 19.
Tickets are on sale now for Brave. A waiting list is in operation for Courage on the Catwalk.
"Kim Stephen, head of sales – conferences, meetings and banqueting at P&J Live, said: “Friends of ANCHOR is an incredible charity that strives to help provide the best possible cancer treatment, care, and support to patients in the north-east of Scotland.
"With many of our lives having been touched by cancer in some way, these events are something we are exceptionally proud to be hosting and our venue will help provide room to grow over the coming years. Both Courage and Brave have become much-anticipated dates in the calendar, and we can’t wait for the models to hit the runway, raise vital funds, and share their inspirational stories.”
As well as the chance to cheer on the models, attendees will enjoy a two-course dinner and musical entertainment throughout the evening. There will also be raffles and an auction, with event sponsorship ensuring every penny of fundraising directly benefits local patients. This includes delivering complementary therapies, emotional and practical support and additional services like mindfulness and retreat days.