Letter from a volunteer

Prompted by his mother’s death, Derek Thomson offered to fundraise for Cancer Research UK. In a letter to mark Volunteers’ Week (1 –7 June) Derek tells the story of why ten years on he continues to volunteer.

From the heart

Dear readers

Happy Volunteers’ Week!

I’ve been a volunteer with Cancer Research UK (CRUK) for 10 years now, and I still love every second of it. This is my story from the heart – I don’t normally share this as I get a bit tearful. But here we go.

My mother, Sophia, passed away from a misdiagnosis of liver cancer when she was 58. She was admitted to hospital on the Monday and passed the following Saturday. I had four days to say my goodbyes. My daughter was due to be born eight weeks later. Mum was a yoga teacher – I used to call her the Bruce Lee of yoga! And I know that if the cancer was spotted earlier she might still be here today. Sad part over.

Passion and pink gazebos

I drove my daughter to the first Race for Life event in Irvine, Scotland, and could not get out of the car park – there were so many people. I was blown away by the passion of everyone volunteering and taking part, and the rest is history! I’ve never missed a Race for Life season since and always get involved with promoting events and rallying support. The picture below was taken a couple of weekends ago at a Tesco fun day this year, complete with pink gazebo.

Derek Thomson with Race for Life volunteers at a fundraiser,
Derek Thomson with Race for Life volunteers at a fundraiser.


Volunteers’ Week is such a special occasion.

It’s a fantastic opportunity to celebrate volunteering and inspire others to sign up and join us.

I’m very fortunate to have been awarded two special commendations for event volunteer of the year at CRUK’s national volunteering awards, Flame of Hope. I was also incredibly proud to be invited to the Queen’s Garden Party at Holyrood which was fantastic.

From the rooftops

My partner Lynn, a nurse at a local hospital, lost her father to cancer last year and loves to volunteer when she can. Armed with a banner and flowers, Lynn and I supported Twilight 2014 by shouting from the rooftops of Edinburgh, “Cancer we’re coming to get you”! There’s really something special about volunteering at events, and I’ve also been involved with Pretty Muddy and Stand up to Cancer in recent years. I still support my local CRUK shop every Saturday, which is where I first began as a volunteer.

What more can I say. This is not only my story but is about my life with CRUK. Research could have saved my mother’s life. I’m so proud to pull on my events jacket and play a small part in making sure other families have more time with their loved ones. For me, volunteering is very personal and I do it with a passion.

I hope you all have a lovely week celebrating volunteering!

My very best wishes,


Find out more about volunteering with Cancer Research UK

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