Mactaggart & Mickel director Joanne Casey and fellow Business Beats Cancer founders win national accolade in recognition of “incredible” fundraising feat

Mactaggart & Mickel director Joanne Casey and her Business Beats Cancer Glasgow board colleagues have been honoured by Cancer Research UK with a special accolade in recognition of their “incredible” fundraising efforts.

Joanne and fellow business leaders and founding board members Yvonne Brady and Jo Milmine were praised after pipping strong competition across the UK to win the charity’s Flame of Hope Pioneer Award, which acknowledges the board’s fundraising work.

The entrepreneurial trio launched the annual Business Beats Cancer dinner in Glasgow which this year marked its fifth anniversary having raised £350,000 to fund vital research into gentler and more effective treatments for cancer.

Above: Business Beats Cancer 2020 Board 

On being presented with the award, Joanne insisted she was accepting the accolade on behalf of Business Beats Cancer Glasgow board and in the name of Estelle Little, a board member who tirelessly raised funds and sadly lost her own battle with cancer in April this year.

The fight against cancer is a cause that is very close to Joanne’s heart as she was just 22 years old when she suffered the heart-breaking loss of her father and her teenaged brother to cancer within a fortnight.

Commenting on the Flame of Hope Award, Joanne said: “Covid-19 has made 2020 the toughest of years but through it all cancer continues to hit people of all ages.

“Cancer is indiscriminate. I was 22 when my father aged 49 and brother aged 18 lost their battles with cancer within two weeks of one another, so Cancer Research UK is very close to my heart.

“We’re fortunate in Scotland to have the world-leading Beatson Institute research into cancer on our doorsteps and I believe research is the way to save lives.

“We’re very humbled to receive the Flame of Hope award. While the pandemic has knocked things back, there are a lot of talented individuals on the Business Beats Cancer board and together they have what it takes to build things back up in the future.”

As well as spearheading the Glasgow fundraising initiative, Joanne has inspired Business Beats Cancer events across the UK but is now stepping down as chair of the Business Beats Cancer board having led it since 2016.

Joanne, Yvonne and Jo were congratulated at a special online presentation, that took the place of a ceremony in London hosted by Cancer Research UK chairman, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, which was cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Paying tribute to the Business Beats Cancer team, Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for Scotland, said: “Every step we make towards beating cancer relies on every pound, every hour and every person.

“These awards are our way of honouring incredible people like the members of the Business Beats Cancer board in Glasgow who give their time freely to raise money for research and promote greater awareness of the disease, and yet ask for nothing in return.

“It’s thanks to the support of the fundraising public and our amazing army of volunteers that we continue to make a real difference and bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”

This year’s Business Beats Cancer Glasgow dinner was held at the Grand Central Hotel in February just weeks before lockdown.

The dinner raised £113,290 on the night which included £10,000 raised through the auction of a painting created by seven-year-old Glaswegian Lydia Yilmaz who has overcome leukaemia.

Above: Joanne Casey with Lydia Yilmaz (Photo: Mark Anderson)

The dinner also included a speech by Dr Seth Coffelt, a researcher into breast and ovarian cancer at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow.

Underlining the importance of the Business Beats Cancer Glasgow fundraising, Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, added: “The Flame of Hope awards give us the opportunity to celebrate and say ‘thank you’ to enormously generous volunteers and supporters for their fantastic work.

“Covid-19 has slowed us down, but we will never stop. We are determined to continue our research to create better treatments. Cancer Research UK has continued to work through world wars, recession and other periods of major disruption.

“We remain as focussed as ever on beating cancer and I want to thank everyone who has supported us through this time.

The Business Beats Cancer Glasgow board members are among a total of 61 individuals and groups from across the UK recognised by the Flame of Hope awards.

Each year around 32,400 people are diagnosed with cancer and 16,100 people die from cancer in Scotland, but the pandemic has caused a devastating loss of funding for cancer research.

Following the cancellation of fundraising events like Race for Life, Cancer Research UK is expecting a £160-million drop in income in the year ahead. As a result, the charity has made the difficult decision to cut £44 million in research funding.