CLAN Staff Take On Challenges To Support People Affected By Cancer

CLAN challengers 2019drk

Three staff members at a north-east charity are helping to support the work it carries out by undertaking extreme challenges during the coming months.

The employees at CLAN Cancer Support, which has a centre on Westburn Road, Aberdeen, have been inspired by the important work carried out by the charity, and have decided to push themselves to raise money for the organisation.

Children and families services manager Tina O’Boyle, whose day to day job involves providing advice and support to young people affected by cancer, is busy training to walk the Great Wall of China in October.

Tina and her team of six specialist workers offer support to children, young people and their families using therapeutic approaches such as artwork, books, music, play, guided imagery, life story work and memory work. The team supports children emotionally through the many life changes caused by a cancer diagnosis, working to build resilience and develop good coping strategies. Tina has never taken on a fundraising challenge before, but, aware that her work with children and young adults is funded entirely by fundraising and donations, she decided to take part in the gruelling walk.

Tina’s colleague, CLAN facilities administrator Sarah is also walking the Great Wall in between 11 and 19 October, but for quite different reasons. Sarah was a client of CLAN eight years ago, when her mother, Diane, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. Sarah and her brother had been nervous when Diane’s doctor suggested the children meet with the team at CLAN, but they found it extremely helpful. Now fully recovered, Diane will join Sarah on the challenge, which will see the ladies walk 10,000 uneven steps along the 300-year-old winding pathway. Sarah and Diane are planning several activities to help their reach £6000 target, including a race night, a ladies’ day and a gin tasting event.

Sarah said: “Working at CLAN makes you feel passionate about the work we do here. The services my brother and I were able to access were so important – not just to give us time to think but to give us a calm, neutral space to deal with how we were feeling. When your parent has cancer, you work hard to be supportive but that can be very difficult, particularly when you are young.”

Tina added: “Over the New Year period, I decided I wanted to make a difference in 2019. I see for myself every day how important CLAN is, and it made sense to raise money to help the services keep going. It can be very difficult for children to understand cancer, and we work with the youngsters, as well as school and health professionals to try to make sense of what’s happening.”

CLAN HR advisor Karen Gardner is also raising money to support those affected by cancer, when she takes part in the London Marathon on April 28th. Karen, who is not a regular runner, has been following a training plan since Christmas, and has organised several fundraising events to help her reach her £2000 target.

Karen said: “Everyone says the marathon is a really emotional experience, but I know that I will be thinking of the hundreds of people CLAN supports, not just in Aberdeen but at centres across the area. It is an honour to represent a local charity at such a large-scale event. I have had the privilege of working for CLAN for four years, and every day, I see, and hear what a huge impact the amazing staff, volunteers and practitioners have on clients, at a time when they need it most.”

CLAN Chief Executive, Dr Colette Backwell commented: “I am always moved by the things that individuals and organisations do to raise funds that allow us to support so many people affected by cancer. Our amazing staff work hard every day to ensure that we can support as many people as possible as close to their homes as possible.

“The fact that Karen, Sarah and Tina are motivated to raise funds for CLAN as well, makes me very proud. They are a credit to CLAN and their endeavours are a testament to the dedication of all our staff members, practitioners and volunteers. We are supporting Tina, Sarah and Karen within CLAN and will be keeping a close eye on their training and cheering them on throughout their challenges.”

There is still time to join Sarah and Tina on the Trek the Great Wall of China CLAN challenge. To sign up for find out more, visit

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