Gemma smashes fundraising target

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Gemma Ferguson of Brodick undertook a charity swim towards the end of last year with the intention of raising at least £200 for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.

The busy mother of two completed the challenge of swimming 403 lengths of the Auchrannie pool, a total of five miles over the period of one month, and has now raised £830 between her JustGiving page and cash donations.

As reported in the Banner in November Gemma squeezed in the fundraising challenge between being a veterinary assistant at Arran Vets, a wife and mum of two children, and her volunteering with the Arran Coastguard Rescue Team.

Raising money for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is a cause very dear to her heart and she dedicated the challenge to her step grandfather, Iain McNeil, who passed away with lung cancer in 1993.

Gemma, who has just received and tallied up all of the donations said: ‘I did not imagine I would raise this total so close to Christmas but everyone has been so generous!

‘Thank you to everyone that has supported me in this, in whatever way, especially John, Penny and Rosie, and all my friends and family, without whom this would not be possible.’

The story behind the challenge and why she completed it in the memory of her step grandfather, Iain McNeil, harks all the way back to 1953. Gemma’s grandmother, Valerie McNeil – on her 17th birthday – met Iain McNeil at a dance in Blackpool and although it was memorable for both of them they never kept in contact.

Many years later while working in a local bar in Liscard on the Wirral in Merseyside, a gentleman who she was serving asked if she remembered him. As it turns out the customer was none other than Iain McNeil with whom she danced all those years ago on her 17th birthday on October 18, 1953.

Ever since that reunion they started to see more of each other and married in 1985.

Gemma neatly wraps up the love story and her challenge by saying: ‘We all loved him very much. I am proud to be raising money for lung cancer research in his memory.’