Superheroes come in all forms. At Clan, we have our team of superheroes who make it their mission to support clients in any way they can. We spoke to the Head of Income Generation and Business Development, Fiona Fernie, to get to know one of the many superheroes who have the power to help.
My name is Fiona Fernie, and I am Clan’s Head of Income Generation and Business Development. I started working for Clan in the Autumn of 2017 so I have been with Clan for three and a half, nearly four years now.
I am originally from Inverness, and I came to university in Aberdeen and only thought I would be in Aberdeen for four years. I have now been here since 2001 – 20 years later! I then started working for a small business organising corporate sports events and then went straight into the Chamber (of Commerce), working with different sector groups within the Chamber’s network members – one of which was the third sector. Then the job came up at Clan, and the rest is history.
My first ever career that I wanted to be was an air hostess because I loved the idea of being able to tell people where the emergency exits were and having that profile on a plane – being the person that knew stuff. I then discovered I quite liked the idea of pharmacy so pursued the occupation, but didn’t quite get the grades at school that I needed. This was a lightbulb moment because in my sixth year of school I crashed a higher in business management, and it just ignited something in me I don’t think I knew was there. So yeah, an air hostess followed by a pharmacist!
In my free time, the single most important thing to me is my family. I like to travel to see my family based up in Inverness still. But closer to home I have two young kids; one who is nine and one who is six. So, I spend a lot of my time socialising with my friends at the side of football pitches or gymnastics gyms rather than in the bars and pubs I was used to when I was younger! I have recently, as a COVID hobby to get out of the house, taken up golf. Just last July I had my first lesson. I haven’t been out much lately, but I am still really enjoying it and quite looking forward to getting out to play some more golf this summer.
I am responsible for the team who plan, coordinate and manage all the fundraising activity that goes on to support the charity and, in turn, the cancer services we provide for people. It is the responsibility of the team I manage alongside the leadership team within Clan, and the wider team Clan team in many circumstances, to make sure we have enough money in the pot so that our services keep running and we can be there for people now and in the future.
My favourite part about working for Clan is also one of the most challenging because it's seeing the impact we have on people every day. There are days where you think you are having a rubbish day, then you look at the drop-in, and it kind of reinforces that actually, we are there for so many people who are going through a dark time. So, on the one hand, the best part is impacting people’s lives, but the hardest part is also seeing the impact of cancer on people’s lives. It’s bittersweet. I would say the real advantage for me is genuinely feeling like going to work every day and making a difference. It’s a real boost.
I am immensely proud of what we managed to achieve through COVID in terms of income generation, pulling together as a team, in addition to the services that we were still able to sustain even with a global pandemic. Within days of having to close our centres, we had telephone support, online fundraising events, digital interventions in place to ensure clients still had their face-to-face support such as therapies and counselling. Every single person, whether they were on furlough or not, made sure we kept ongoing.
Clan is there for so many people affected by cancer - and it’s not just about the people who are cancer patients themselves, which makes us unique. A lot of other charities support the cancer patient, whereas Clan – established nearly 38 years ago – supports the entire family unit and support network and recognising that cancer affects everybody. If you are going through a cancer diagnosis and you don’t have a way to get to treatment in Aberdeen, Clan can be on your doorstep for counselling and therapies which can be a lifeline to many people. And likewise, if you live in Elgin, and you have to travel every day for five weeks for your radiotherapy, you can stay at the Clan Haven which has a real impact on people living in Moray, Orkney and Shetland, for example. We are quite privileged to provide that service to people and I think they do feel the benefit of it.
I see Clan continuing to do the same amazing work we do now but potentially delivering it in different ways and to a wider geography by using the digital services that we have adapted; which has enabled us to help people in other locations during the last year. ARI has some of the best cancer services in the country so we often see people travelling from further afield. Clan is in a very good position to look at where they can go next, which for me, is part of the excitement as there are so many options. How do you pick one!? Lots of exciting times ahead for us.
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Clan offers free support to anyone affected by cancer in north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland. Please help support us.
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