Soon-to-close social club donates final funds to Maggie’s

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Dwindling numbers have forced a charity-minded social club to close down – but not without one last act of generosity.

Inspired after reading about the Evening News’ Buy A Brick campaign – to build a £1.2 million extension to the Maggie’s Centre at the Western General – Beryl Stevenson, of the Wallyford Tea Dance Group, decided to donate the group’s remaining cash to Maggie’s.

Following the club’s last hurrah on Wednesday, members of the group handed over £600 to the Maggie’s Centre team.

It’s a personal cause for Beryl, who has lost several family members to the disease over the years.

She said: “I saw the Buy A Brick idea in the Evening News and I have heard a lot of great things about Maggie’s and wanted to help.

“We’ve had a lot of cancer in the family – I have personally had too many folk in my family who have experienced cancer and this is a really good cause to donate the final club funds to.”

The Wallyford Tea Dance Group offered a monthly social event to members of the local community and over 23 years has raised more than £25,000.

Central to the group’s ethos was supporting the community through practical assistance. Janice Downie, who helped run the club for the last 2 1/2 years, said: “My mum, Ruby Downie, started the club with a group of local women and from the beginning, the focus was on charity at the heart of a community.

“It was extremely important to her that the money raised was spent on tangible things. For example, she would ring around the hospices and ask what they needed the most. She would then buy the items – anything from extra bedclothes to defibrillators for the ambulances.

“Every penny went back into the community.

“And what a perfect way to end the group’s years of fundraising – by donating to Maggie’s. It fits with my mum’s ethos of putting the money towards something solid.

“Buy A Brick is brilliant because it feels as if you are actually contributing to the cost of the materials for the extension.”

Ruby died of leukaemia in March 2014, but Beryl and Janice and host of other helpers have continued to run the tea dances.

Held on the last Tuesday of every month, the group would welcome people from the local area and for the £2 entry would enjoy a hot pie, sandwiches, a cup of tea, the dance, accordion music, bingo and a raffle.

The remaining £900 of club funds was split between the Wallyford Gala, who received £300, and £600 for Maggie’s.

The centre was set up more than 20 years ago in memory of landscape architect Maggie Keswick Jencks, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993.

Our bid to help Maggie’s Edinburgh build the extension was sparked by Lisa Stephenson, 47, who has raised thousands of pounds for the centre at the Western General Hospital since her diagnosis with myeloma in 2011.

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk