Courage on the Catwalk: Kingshill Studios Proud to Support ANCHOR and cancer and haematology care in the North East.
I was devastated to lose my dad in 2005 to a brain haemorrhage. He had suffered from a Myeloproliferative blood disorder for several years and he received excellent care at Aberdeen’s Royal Infirmary, and in particular from The Friends of ANCHOR team.
ANCHOR stands for Aberdeen and North Centre for Haematology, Oncology and Radiotherapy and the ANCHOR unit covers the dedicated wards and clinics within Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for oncology and haematology patients. The ANCHOR team are a fundraising powerhouse, raising astonishing amounts of money for expensive medical equipment, patient support and research projects. To date, they’ve donated £1.7million to groundbreaking medical research to help cancer and haematology patients - and, let’s face it, future patients. Cancer and blood disorders, sadly, aren’t going anywhere.
I first went to see the marvellous Sarah Jane Hogg, Fundraising and Development Director, Friends of Anchor, a couple of years ago to explore how I could help, even in a small way, I can proudly say that Kingshill Studios has always been a local charity supporter. I was immediately impressed by Sarah Jane’s passion but also her absolute drive as she talked me through the charity’s calendar of events, support services and fundraising work.
I was immediately set to work and visited the hospital to take photographs for Spotlight Magazine. I’ve been asked to photograph various pieces of new equipment, from scales to ultrasounds, as they’re added to the hospital’s roster but, most memorably, I’ve photographed patients who have been keen to tell their story to support ANCHOR.
What I love most about ANCHOR as an organisation is their compassion. Cancer and blood illness can strip you of many things - confidence, humour, your sense of self - but ANCHOR’s hospital home comforts and post-treatment care attempt to redress the balance a little.
This is a charity that provides Dyson fans and ice lollies to cancer wards. They offer everything from turbans to intensive moisturisers to patients dealing with some of the unpleasant side-effects of treatment. And, of course, they organise two annual showpiece fashion events - Courage on the Catwalk for women’s fashion and Brave for men’s - to raise awareness and money for ANCHOR’s quite literally life-changing work.
My first Courage on the Catwalk was last year in 2017, when one of the longstanding photographers, Doug Niven, was drafted out to take photographs of the new men’s event Brave. I jumped at the chance and, although I was nervous, I was made to feel very welcome by Dani Rose Mackay, the other Courage on the Catwalk photographer. She soon showed me the ropes and I was off! Each of the women visited my studio for head and editorial shots, and then I had the honour of shooting the catwalk shows at Aberdeen Beach Ballroom.
Courage on the Catwalk 2018 was even bigger and better than 2017’s event, raising £144,000. The ladies - all cancer and blood disorder patients - strutted, radiated joy, high-fived, waved, laughed and cried, and I found myself completely in awe of them. They display such dignity, strength and cheerful defiance in the face of what can be a terrifying diagnosis and punishing treatment schedule. In short, they’re incredible, and I feel so privileged to have been involved.