A CANCER survivor who battled the illness alongside her closest friend has paid a poignant tribute to her memory by returning to the catwalk they shared four years ago.
Claire Cordiner, 44, paraded along the runway alone at the Breast Cancer Care’s Fashion Show but reflected on the life of her friend in an emotional revisiting of the event they shared in 2008 while they were both being treated for breast cancer.
The mother-of-two, who has since recovered, took part in the tenth anniversary of the glittering event which raises funds for the charity.
Today, Claire spoke of her heartbreaking return – this time without her closest friend Leona Levey, who lost her fight with the disease one year after they modelled together.
“It was quite emotional and I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect being there without Leona”, she said after the show, “but as soon as I walked out onto the catwalk it came flooding back.
“My dad and sister were at the afternoon show and both my husband and Leona’s husband were in the audience. It went very well and I had loads of support.”
Claire and Leona had met in college, became flatmates and even spent their gap year together, driving across America, and remained inseparable even when each began a family.
And when it was discovered Leona had breast cancer and lost her hair during chemotherapy, her best friend held her hand and, in a remarkable act of support, shaved off her own hair.
She was among ten previous models invited to take part for the tenth anniversary and joined 20 others on stage. Many of those taking part are affected by cancer.
Claire, who lives in Gilmerton, was joined by husband Danny, 40, who works in banking, and daughters Colette, 11, and Neve, seven, who supported her all the way.
She said: “It was the tenth anniversary so they invited one model from every previous year and it was me they chose from 2008. There were some incredible women, and men too, at the event, and I knew what they were going through. There was one model I met a few months ago when we were taking part in a photoshoot and she passed away just a few weeks before she was to take part the event.
“Everything me and Leona had been through came back, and it was quite hard without her there, but it went well.”
Claire, who has been raising funds for Breast Cancer Care, intends to continue working with the charity and use her own experiences to support other women.
She added: “I couldn’t have done any of this without the support I’ve been given by my family over the years. I’ve just had my fifth year check-up and everything is fine. Breast Cancer Care has given me this wonderful opportunity and I’m going to go on to help others get through what I went through.”