Katie’s fund breaks £100k barrier after 17 years
A Kirton couple’s fundraising for brain tumour research in memory of their daughter has come to an incredible end after reaching the £100,000 mark.
Fred (76) and Margaret Clarke (73) have spent the past 17 years supporting the work of the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre at Nottingham University as a tribute to their youngest daughter Katie (24), who died in June 2000.
Katie, who grew up in Wyberton and went on to study languages at the University of East Anglia, was diagnosed with two brain tumours within five years and was eventually treated at Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham.
Margaret said: “We never planned on raising £100,000, as the idea was to raise £50,000 because that was how much the operation cost after Katie was diagnosed with her first brain tumour in 1995.
“When Katie died, Fred and myself thought of how we could turn it into something good and the first fundraising event we did was a bed push from Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital, where the first brain tumour was diagnosed, to Kirton.
“Pilgrim Hospital let us have a bed and all of our friends dressed up in pink, the colour of Katie’s car, as we pushed the bed from Boston to Kirton, in the pouring rain.
“We stopped off at every pub, where people were throwing money into the collection buckets, while lorry and car drivers gave their support as well.
“The bed push raised about £8,000, still the biggest single fundraising event we did, and that’s what got the momemtum going to raise more money.”
Since 2000, every kind of fundraising event has been organised by Fred and Margaret Clarke, including an annual Katie Clarke Memorial Fund Golf Day, which was held for the final time in August and took the fundraising over the £100,000 mark.
Margaret said: “We’ve had sherry parties, cake sales at Christmas, balls, shops have named the Katie Clarke Memorial Fund as their charity of the year, candle parties and one person even jumped out of a helicopter.
We stopped off at every pub, where people were throwing money into the collection buckets’, with lorry and car drivers giving their support as well
“One of Katie’s friends did a half-marathon from which he wanted to raise £500.
“So we decided to help by asking people to sponsor him and he raised £1,800 in the end.”
Fred and Margaret’s last fundraising event together was the 15th annual Katie Clarke Memorial Fund Golf Day at Boston West Golf Club, near Kirton Holme, in August which raised £10,000, taking the total amount raised through the £100,000 barrier. Fred said: “We’re very grateful to Boston West Golf Club because after we held the first golf day, they wanted to keep it going every year.
“We must have raised about £30,000 through the golf day over the years as people would come from all over Lincolnshire and once they did, they would come back the next year.”
Margaret added: “As two ordinary people, we can’t believe the support we’ve been given.
“But the biggest thing for us is that the people who started out on this journey with us, after Katie died in 2000, have stayed with us.
“One of the doctors who treated Katie opened up his house for a garden party which raised over £1,000, whilst the ball we used to have every year raised quite a bit of money for the fund as well.
“You just don’t seem to realise how the money accumulates, but I remember a doctor at Queen’s Medical Centre telling us ‘from little acorns, mighty trees grow’”.
Katie’s name and legacy will live on at the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre in Nottingham where she will be added to its “roll of honour”.
Emma Simpson, a fundraiser for the centre, said: “It’s absolutely incredible what Fred and Margaret have achieved over the years and they have been amazing supporters of the centre.
“We’re hugely grateful to them because the centre is doing a lot of research so it can raise awareness about reducing the delay in diagnosing brain tumours.
“Currently, it’s taking 14 weeks for patients to be diagnosed, whereas through our Headstart campaign, run in collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons and the Department of Health, the timescale has been reduced to six weeks.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do that without the support of people like Fred and Margaret Clarke, so we’re delighted, thrilled and grateful for all they have done.”
Fred said: “When we held the golf day, we told people that it was going to be the very last one and they were ever so sad.
“We’re so grateful for the people who have stood with us from day one and who have held us up over the last 17 years.
“But me and Margaret really wanted to make a decision to bring our part in the fundraising to an end because there has to be point of closure and this is the right time to stop.
“We’d like to thank every single person who has helped and literally done anything to allow us to raise this vast amount of money.
“But there’s an age limit on life and you’ve got to live it to the full.”