Agnes Tomlinson, President of Ilkley Soroptimist group, tells us what the group are doing to support vital breast cancer research.

Friday 4 March 2016      Community blog
Members of the Ilkley Soroptimists group

The first Soroptimist group started in California in 1921 with the intention of achieving the best for women around the world. There are now over 3000 groups working on local, national and international levels to support women through advocacy, awareness and action.

As President of the Ilkley Soroptimist group, Agnes Tomlinson knows how important it is for women to support one another. This support became even more important when one of the group’s members, and then Agnes herself, were diagnosed with breast cancer. In this blog, Agnes tells us how the group got involved with Breast Cancer Now and what they're doing to raise funds for breast cancer research.

The £1,000 Challenge

Some years ago, one of our Soroptimist Ilkley members, a happy young mother, was diagnosed with breast cancer which she faced bravely and positively. Sadly she died, leaving behind a distraught husband and two young children.

Around that time, another of our members, Pat Booth, found out about a research centre for the treatment of breast cancer in London - the Toby Robins Research Centre. Founded by Bill Freeman following the death of his wife Toby Robins from breast cancer, it is the first dedicated breast cancer research centre.

We began to fundraise for the £1,000 Challenge, which was first started in 1990 to fund the Research Centre. Joining the challenge and raising £1,000 entitles the fundraiser to have the name of someone special to them inscribed on one of the centre's beautiful glass walls.

We have continued fundraising by having an annual local street collection. With the help of the club we have raised enough money to have the privilege of having the names of three wonderful Soroptimists as well as 'Soroptimist International of Ilkley' featured on the wall.

Supporting vital research

Many of us know, either first hand or through family and friends, just how devastating breast cancer is and how important it is to fund research into the disease. We have a supportive network of friendship which is so important, but we want to do as much as possible to help research.

In 2015, we decided to raise the profile even more with a community quiz, just before Breast Cancer Awareness Month and our annual street collection. We contacted our local Breast Cancer Now representative Liz MacPherson and worked together on both events, raising a wonderful £1,500.

I am President of the Ilkley Club 2015/16 and was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. I had chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a year of Herceptin. When we visited the Toby Robins Research Centre in 2014, I learnt that it took 20 years of research and development for Herceptin to be available. I am so grateful and after finding this out, I wanted to do even more for the charity in my year as president.

Although the quiz took some planning (and a lot of running around), it was a fantastic event. The feedback was brilliant – it was a great opportunity to get everyone in the community together, have fun, learn something and raise a few hundred pounds in the process!

We far exceeded our initial fundraising target precisely because the whole community came together to make sure the events were a success. We were joined by friends, family, local businesses and musicians. So thank you to everyone who assisted, organised and donated – we couldn’t have done it without you.

Get involved

If you’ve been inspired by the Ilkley Soroptimists, you can sign up to the £1,000 Challenge here. You can also sign up for a free fundraising pack, all you need to do is complete our online form and we'll provide you with all you need to organise your own event.

Request a fundraising pack

Plus we have lots of lovely new pink promotional materials we can send you for your event. Get in touch with us on 0333 20 70 300 or email community@breastcancernow.org and let us know what you’ve got planned.