IN June 2019 Graham and Julie Loughery from Limavady, along with the help and support of their family and friends, held a charity barbecue, auction and stock judging night on their farm. This event, along with numerous donations, raised a staggering £60,200 to support breast cancer research at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) at Queen’s University Belfast.
Donations flooded in from friends, family and the farming community, especially farmers at Ballymena Livestock Market where Graham works as an auctioneer. Generous support was also shown from different societies which Graham and Julie have connections with.
In May 2018 Julie found a small lump. The doctor red flagged her and she was seen at the breast clinic within a fortnight and was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the age of 43 Julie was seven years away from her first NHS mammogram. Now through chemotherapy and a mastectomy Julie is ‘loving life again’. She would like to highlight the importance of self-checking to both men and woman. Hopefully her story raises awareness and saves lives.
Julie said: “Thanks to the staff and surgeons at Altnagelvin Area Hospital I am feeling fit, healthy and able to live life again as I did before. The kindness, care and attentiveness I have received has been second to none!
“The fun and hard work organising the barbecue has been so fulfilling to know that I am helping others battling this disease by supporting research into new treatments, hopefully doing away with surgery and chemo in the future – which is so rewarding.
“My surgeon, Mr Padraig Diggin, recommended the Queen’s Foundation, and in particular the breast cancer research that is carried out at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University, Belfast, with 100 per cent of the money raised going directly into research in Northern Ireland.”
Julie continued: “I had hoped the barbecue would raise a substantial amount, and in return everyone would have a great night out. We have been absolutely blown away by the generosity towards our efforts to raise money for CCRCB. Without the help and support of friends and family it would not have been possible.
“I had a team of helpers who worked tirelessly alongside me for the months running up to the barbecue, making our sheep shed ready, selling tickets, collecting auction prizes and much much more. Our thanks goes out to all that helped make the night a success.
“On the night again friends and family worked tirelessly barbequing for a crowd of 700 people. Ninety-nine per cent of the food was donated by butchers and producers from near and far. Tickets, portaloos and even a chocolate fountain were all kindly donated by local businesses for the event, all in aid of the charity.
“Auctioneer William Blackburn conducted the auction which saw 80 lots go under the hammer, such as hotel vouchers, shepherds crooks, football/rugby shirts, weekends away to name but a few. The auction raised £28,000! People came from all over the country, England and Scotland too. There was something for everyone, food, dancing, music and even a bouncy castle and rodeo sheep for the kids.”
Julie was delighted to be able to visit CCRCB and see what the researchers at Queen’s are doing, so that she can tell everyone who supported her what a difference their donations are making.
Dr Stuart McIntosh, Consultant Breast Surgeon and Clinical Researcher at CCRCB, said: “It is due to donations from donors like Julie and her husband Graham that we are able to carry out the ground-breaking work we do into breast cancer research at Queen’s. The money raised will be used to support a three year PHD Student who wilI carry out breast cancer research here at CCRCB. I would like to express my personal thanks to everyone who supported them to raise this significant amount.
“Due to our research new tests developed help decide which therapies will work for which patient therefore helping to personalise breast cancer treatment. Supporters like Julie can help us develop new treatments faster and change the lives of women with breast cancer and their families.”
The Queen’s University of Belfast Foundation is the registered charity of the university. Since it was establishment in 1999, the foundation has engaged supporters to change lives by funding medical research, such as cancer, and by supporting students to realise their full potential through scholarships and prizes. Many of these projects would not happen without the commitment of supporters.
Graham and Julie would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their donations and help raising this enormous amount of money for such a worthy cause.