Janice Coulter has received a Cancer Research UK Flame of Hope award as pioneer of the year
A mum left heartbroken after losing her son to cancer has received a national award in recognition of her determination to help others.
Janice Coulter received the pioneer of the year award from Cancer Research UK at a special ceremony at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. The charity’s annual Flame of Hope awards acknowledge remarkable efforts in volunteering made by people from all walks of life. The audience heard how Janice raised more than £16,000 for life-saving research by setting up an online shop during lockdown from her dining room at home in Lanark. The shop, launched during the height of the pandemic in 2020, attracted donations from the community of everything from good quality clothes to toys, books to furniture, ornaments to golf clubs.
Now Janice, who worked around the clock to make the shop a success, has paid tribute to the son who inspired it. Janice, 64, and her builder husband Bobby, 67, were devastated after their elder son Robert Coulter died on Christmas Eve 2010 aged 31, four months after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Just the day before, dad of two Robert had married his partner Becky Lee after the couple brought their wedding day forward.
Janice said: “I don’t want other families to have to go through what we have.
“We miss Robert every single day. He had two little girls and was right at the start of his adult life with everything to live for. No one could explain why he got cancer so young. It was just the cards he was dealt. We’re a close family. I miss Robert’s cuddles and I miss the conversations we used to have. I’m lucky, his daughters come for a sleepover every week and we keep his memory close. I think if Robert was here today he would be proud of me and glad we’re doing everything we can to help people with cancer.”
Janice is vice chairwoman of the Lanark fundraising committee for Cancer Research UK which has raised more than half a million pounds since it started 50 years ago. She’s been at the heart of the committee since joining in 2012 and was helped with the online shop by her husband Bobby, son Ross, 40, and grandchildren Emily, now 13, and Abbey, 11. After first advertising the shop on Facebook and On the Market, people started dropping off unwanted goods to Janice’s front porch and purchased items were either picked up, posted or delivered.
Janice said: “The online shop was a lightbulb moment right at the start of the pandemic.
“I’ve also lost my dad and brother to cancer so have seen first-hand how devastating the disease can be. In the spring of 2020, we were looking at cancelling all the fundraising events that our committee had planned that year but we were determined not to be beaten. The online shop was the perfect answer and it just took off. Even my husband and son act as delivery boys at times and I’ve had amazing support from all of the committee. I’m just glad it’s proved so successful and we’re not stopping yet.”
Janice was among a total of 80 individuals and groups to be recognised across the UK at the Flame of Hope awards.
Amanda Harris, Cancer Research UK relationship manager for Scotland, said: “Janice is a creative individual who is always coming up with new ideas and wasn’t prepared to allow the pandemic to stop her raising funds for life-saving research.
“The Flame of Hope awards are our way of honouring incredible people like Janice who give their time freely to raise money for research and promote greater awareness of the disease, and yet ask for nothing in return. Every step we make towards beating cancer relies on every pound, every hour and every person.
“It’s thanks to the support of the fundraising public and our amazing army of volunteers that we can continue to make a real difference and bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”
Cancer Research UK has celebrated the achievements of more than 1,500 people since launching its Flame of Hope awards in 2013.
Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “The past 18 months has shown us – more than ever – how fortunate we are to have the support of our incredible volunteers.
“The Flame of Hope awards give us the opportunity to celebrate and say thank you to our dedicated volunteers and supporters for the fantastic work they continue to do.
“One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime*, and we can all play a part to help beat it. Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives but this has only been possible thanks to the commitment of our supporters and volunteers, without whom we would be unable to fund outstanding scientists, doctors and nurses.”
For more information about Cancer Research UK visit the website.