New Charity Chief Executive Set For Island Visits

The new chief executive of CLAN Cancer Support and the charity’s chairman will be in Orkney and Shetland next week as they shape the organisation’s vision to be the centre of excellence for the provision of services in the north and north-east of Scotland.

Dr Colette Backwell was announced as the new chief executive in June and formally took on her duties earlier this month (September).

Dr Backwell aims to build on the charity’s reputation for providing a leading range of cancer support services that meet the individual needs of those affected by cancer, their carers, family members and close friends.

She will be joined by chairman Kenny Anderson for a series of meetings in Orkney and Shetland on Monday and Tuesday (September 21 and 22).

Representatives from the NHS, CLAN staff and volunteers as well as service users and other stakeholders will be introduced to Dr Backwell and Mr Anderson.

Reinforcing CLAN’s position as a trusted hub of community-based cancer support services is an integral component of Dr Backwell’s vision for the charity moving forward.

CLAN Cancer Support was established in Aberdeen in 1983 and has grown considerably to provide free services to anyone affected by cancer across north and north-east Scotland, including from its bases in Kirkwall and Lerwick.

Dr Backwell brings over 20 years’ experience in policy development, research, industry support and business management within the charity, public and private sectors to the role, alongside expertise in the challenges of service delivery in rural communities.

A member of the Scottish Rural Policy Centre’s Advisory Group, as well as a visiting professor at Robert Gordon University, she also currently sits on the Scottish Committee of the Institute of Directors.

Dr Backwell said: “I’m delighted to now officially be in post with CLAN and I look forward to meeting staff, volunteers, clients and supporters across all areas that the charity covers in the weeks ahead. The visits to Orkney and Shetland are a key part of that.

“CLAN is renowned for its level of professional support and values, providing a welcoming, empathetic and caring environment alongside enhancing the quality of lives affected by cancer. It is my aim to build on this as the charity moves forward.

“At the heart of everything the charity does is the wellbeing of the individuals it supports. Listening to their needs will be essential in shaping our service moving forward. Serving the needs of individual communities with a common goal is important, and by speaking to those on the frontline in Orkney and Shetland I hope to gain a clear understanding of what we can do to build on our work on the islands.”

Dr Backwell will lead a team of over 60 staff and 400 volunteers, with a growing number on the islands.

She added: “CLAN’s geographical spread sees its service provision cover the north-east of Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland and, as each individual area comes with its own specific set of unique requirements, it is integral that we continue to listen and adapt accordingly.

“To be able to successfully provide cancer support services across such a large area is undoubtedly a challenge but one that I, along with CLAN’s dedicated team, look forward to tackling. CLAN plays a massive part in so many people’s lives throughout the north of Scotland and it is our goal to continue to reach out and support those who require our help.”

CLAN Cancer Support is an independent charity which provides cancer support services and information, free of charge, for anyone, of any age, affected by any type of cancer. CLAN aims to support people to reduce anxiety, stress and to increase their ability to cope with the effects of a serious illness.

For further information about CLAN Cancer Support please call (01224) 647 000 or visit

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