Advent ball raises £57,000 for Pancreatic Cancer Scotland and The Difference Macmillan Centre

Leanne Monaghan, organiser of the Advent Ball in Kelso, with her brothers, Allan, Stephen and Michael.
Leanne Monaghan, organiser of the Advent Ball in Kelso, with her brothers, Allan, Stephen and Michael.

The organiser of a fundraising ball in Kelso says she has been overwhelmed by the support she got from all over the Borders after the event raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity.

Leanne Monaghan’s Advent ball at Springwood Hall, attended by 560 people last Saturday, raised more than £57,000 for a pancreatic cancer charity and the Macmillan Cancer Support centre at the Borders General Hospital at Melrose.

Leanne, of Kelso, said: “The Difference will receive around £23000 and Pancreatic Cancer Scotland will receive around £33,000.

“It’s such an achievement for a wee place in the Borders. I can’t thank everyone enough for their time, prizes, donations, pennies, attendance and everything in between. I know how much difference this will make to both these small, local charities.”

Along with a 10-strong committee of helpers, the 30-year-old teacher has been working on the NFU Mutual Borders-sponsored ball for the last year.

More than 50 local businesses sponsored tables at the event, which sold out in 24 hours back in June.

“It was so well supported by people from all over the Borders and every single person that was there said how much they enjoyed it,” Leanne said.

“There was a real mix of people, young and old, and it was brilliant to see everyone together.”

Leanne decided to raise funds for the Macmillan centre at the Melrose hospital and Pancreatic Cancer Scotland after her mum died from the disease in 2016.

She explained: “I lost my mum two years ago to pancreatic cancer.

“The centre at the BGH helped us quite a lot with lots of different things at the time, and I wanted to do something to raise awareness and give back to those charities.”

Fewer than 4% of adults with pancreatic cancer live for five years after diagnosis, with just 1% surviving for 10 years.

“We googled the statistics and it was pretty devastating to see,” Leanne said.

“The survival rates for pancreatic cancer are pretty grim, and they haven’t improved in about 40 years.”

But it was the speed at which the disease takes hold that really prompted Leanne to do something.

“They might never find a cure for pancreatic cancer due to the nature of it and where the pancreas is in the body, but it would be great if a treatment is found to slow it down,” she said.

“It takes hold so quickly – my mum was diagnosed in the January and she died in the August. That’s actually longer than a lot of people.

“I was pregnant when I lost my mum. She missed my son, her first grandchild, by eight weeks which was devastating. That was a big driver for me wanting to do something to raise money and awareness.

“I hate the fact that I’m doing something like this, but I think people need to hear personal stories to learn more.

“Kelso definitely knows about pancreatic cancer now.”

An online and live auction at the event raised more than £23,000, with a raffle bringing in another £4,000, and over £2000 collected in pennies for Prosecco.

“Maybe, just maybe, this money might fund a researcher for a year, who might be the one to make a break,” Leanne added.

“If not its a very large stepping stone in the right direction. In the meantime the Difference will continue to support us right here in the Borders.”

Kelso provost Dean Weatherston said: “It was an absolutely fantastic night that was very professionally done.

“The amount of money that has been raised is phenomenal.”