STAFF at a city medical centre are set to pay tribute to two “funny, warm and well-loved” colleagues who passed away from the same form of cancer in the space of three years by undertaking a mammoth charity walk to raise money to help fight the illness.
A group of doctors, nurses and support staff from Liberton Medical Group will make the 16-mile hike from Prestonpans to North Berwick in the hope of raising £6,000 to support the work of Pancreatic Cancer Scotland after receptionist Mairi Frew and GP Andrew Morrison lost their fights against the illness in August 2014 and March 2017 respectively.
The group say they want to raise awareness of the condition and help with research into earlier diagnosis as they prepare to kick off the walk early this morning.
Staff said the “hugely emotional” passing of Mairi in August 2014 was “devastating,” describing the receptionist as “bright, fun and with an amazing sense of humour”.
However, they were left stunned less than three years later when Dr Morrison passed away following a short battle with the illness.
Marina Baillie, business manager at Liberton Medical Group, revealed the centre christened their recently-built extension the Mairi Frew Wing.
She added: “Mairi was such a bubbly, amazing person. I don’t think I ever saw her have a bad day, she was always smiling, always laughing.”
“We started at the centre within a few weeks of each other about ten years ago, so we became really close, I just couldn’t believe something as awful as that could happen to such a happy person.
“I think that’s why we see this as such a big deal. We want to do all we can to give hope to people who are going through the same thing.”
The medical centre hit the headlines earlier this summer after becoming the target for a group of vandals who shattered windows, set fire to bins and tore guttering off the roof in a series of overnight attacks.
According to Dr Julie Catnach, the threat of vandalism made the aftermath of Dr Morrison’s passing in March a “much more emotional” time.
She said: “I think he would have been furious with what was happening here a few months ago, It just made it harder to deal with because he was so well-liked here.”
“I think what really told was the reactions from some patients when they heard the news, some of them were inconsolable. We had a condolence book at the entrance to the surgery and it was almost completely full within a week.”
The team are currently just £400 short of their fundraising target, but say they expect to reach the full amount by the end of the weekend.
Dr Catnach also said issues with vandalism had seemingly subsided.
Marina added: “We treat around 6,000 patients in our practice and we always said if each one of them gave a pound, we’d reach our target.”
“We’re so close, but I’m confident we’ll get over the line by the time we finish.”