Local businesses are rallying behind an independent charity which is helping families in their fight against cancer.
Newton Aycliffe firm SCH Site Services is the latest company to support the Solan Connor Fawcett Family Cancer Trust, set up by charity crusader Mark Solan.
Mark raised £22,000 for Cancer Research UK from a charity boxing match last July after losing family and friends to the disease, and was later nominated for a Pride of Britain Award, narrowly missing out in the regional finals.
The 42-year-old has since raised another £20,000 and is already helping families from Newton Aycliffe, Spennymoor and other parts of the region who are dealing with cancer.
Now Mark – who lost his mother, Kay, and grandmother, Edith, to cancer – wants businesses and individuals to get behind his new trust to support ambitious future plans for the charity.
Steel firm SCH Site Services has donated a number of family days out for children and their families at Aycliffe leisure venue ROF 59.
And Mark – pictured (above, right) with SCH managing director Gary Finley – says donations like this are ideal in his quest to make life easier for local cancer sufferers.
“Everyone is willing to donate money, but what we’re really looking for at the moment is time and services, what individuals and businesses can offer us to help us grow,” says Mark, from Spennymoor.
“It might be volunteering time for a fundraising event one day, or offering plumbing or electrical services, because some of the families I’m seeing every day have nothing and they’re really struggling.
“It’s about making connections and not necessarily holding our hand out for cash.”
Mark has been helping families in all kinds of ways, including buying new beds and mattresses, mobility scooters, new TVs, taxi fares to hospitals, food, holidays and short breaks, as well as cash for those who are struggling.
He has ambitious plans of opening a charity shop as well as a cancer drop-in centre, which would offer support and training for families suffering from cancer, as well as a food and clothes bank and ongoing support after illness.
He already has the support of Aycliffe firm Lucite International as well as well-known companies including Audi UK, Aldi, Asda, Weatherspoons, Halfords, Smiths toy shop, Woven, Team Cycles, Great Annual Savings, CV Motors and local football clubs Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Spennymoor Town, as well as a number of local small independent businesses.
Mark, who juggles a full-time job as manager of the Woven fashion shop in Durham City, added: “Everything I do, I try to do properly, and there’s always a passion behind it.
“I’m seeing people every day who are dying from cancer, which is what drives me on. I’ve had no training for this, apart from seeing my Mam and Gran go through it.
“I have no intention of leaving my full-time job because that pays my bills, and balancing both means every single penny we raise goes direct to those who are in need.
“All levels of support play a big part and these days out at ROF 59, paid for by SCH Site Services, will offer families some valuable time out.”
The Solan Connor Fawcett Family Cancer Trust is inspired by three family names, after Mark’s mum and gran as well as Billy Connor and Margaret Fawcett, who all died from cancer.
SCH Site Services managing director Gary Finley and his wife Lynsey lost Mrs Fawcett to the disease in 2015.
Gary said: “Mark is an inspirational person who has really pulled a lot of people and families together, and all with a good cause behind it.
“What he’s trying to do with the charity is fantastic and Lynsey and I were honoured when Mark asked to name his new trust partly in Margaret’s name – it’s a wonderful legacy for her and for all families involved and we’re delighted to offer our support.”
• Any businesses or individuals willing to offer their time or services to the Solan Connor Fawcett Family Cancer Trust can email Mark at [email protected], or search for the trust on Facebook.