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Flame of Hope Awards: Celebrating our volunteers

by Amy Warnock | Personal stories

3 April 2023

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A glass Flame of Hope award

As well as recently celebrating Cancer Research UK’s 20th birthday, this year also marks 20 years of our Flame of Hope Awards.  

The Flame of Hope Awards are our annual celebration of our most outstanding and dedicated supporters and volunteers. Since the first ceremony in 2003 we’ve presented almost 2000 awards to thank the amazing people who voluntarily give their time and energy to help beat cancer. 

This year we received a record number of nominations, with 835 names put forward by staff, fellow volunteers and members of the public. 

Throughout March, winners were invited to join us in seven locations across the UK for an afternoon tea award presentation. Thanks to the record number of nominations we received, this year we’re delighted to be recognising more than 140 deserving Flame of Hope winners.  

These amazing volunteers have supported activity right across the organisation – from fundraising, to increasing awareness of cancer, and helping run shops and events. Here we’re highlighting four of this year’s amazing Flame of Hope winners.  

Susan Haigh 

Susan Haigh receiving her Flame of Hope award

Susan receiving her award

Susan Haigh, 74, from Blackburn, was named a Cancer Research UK Honorary Fellow at the Flame of Hope Awards held in Manchester Hall in appreciation of her exceptional loyalty and dedication after more than 30 years as a shop volunteer.   

Susan, who has terminal lung cancer, has shown exceptional commitment to Cancer Research UK after volunteering at the Northgate shop since the first week it opened its doors in 1990. 

“I remember walking past the shop on the first few days it opened and thinking how lovely it was. I was in my 40s and my two boys were getting older, and I wanted to do something for me. So, I just popped in and signed up there and then. It’s hard to believe it’s been so long” said Susan. 

In 2018 Susan was diagnosed with lung cancer after visiting her GP with a persistent cough.   

As soon as her treatment had finished, Susan was back in the shop serving customers, sorting through donations and helping in any way she could.  

Susan Haigh standing outside a Cancer Research UK shop

Susan standing outside the Northgate shop

And her fundraising continued away from the shop, including raising £1,600 with her husband Edward, when the couple requested donations to Cancer Research UK instead of gifts for their golden wedding anniversary.  

Sadly, last year Susan was told that her cancer is now terminal after it spread to her left lung. And, following more chemotherapy, she recently made the difficult decision to stop all treatment. 

“I decided I wanted quality of life now, not quantity. I was incredibly happy with my oncologist and his wonderful team, but I kept being so poorly with the treatment, so I’d rather just see how I go, and right now, I’m doing just fine,” added Susan. 

“Being in the shop is one of the highlights of my week. I love chatting to our regular customers and meeting new people, I’ve met some lovely people over the years and made some great friends too.” 

Shane Stephenson  

Shane Stephenson holding his Flame of Hope award

Shane with his award

Shane Stephenson from Fraserburgh devotes weekends every spring and summer to volunteering at Race for Life events across Scotland. He was recently among one of three people across the UK to win the Event Volunteer of the Year award, which he received at the Flame of Hope Awards ceremony at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. 

Shane, now aged 27, was a teenager when he first signed up to help at Race for Life 5k and 10k events. He was inspired to volunteer by his aunt Ann Gauld, a staff nurse at Fraserburgh Community Hospital who was then being treated for breast cancer. The family were heartbroken when Ann died in November 2011. But Shane vowed to keep volunteering in her memory, supporting the charity to raise funds for life-saving research.  

This year Shane’s volunteering duties are likely to include helping at Race for Life Aberdeen 5k and 10K events. Affectionately known within the events team as “The Machine” because of his enthusiasm and determination to get the job done, Shane goes above and beyond to support, starting early in the morning to help set up the Race for Life course, staying late into the night to help pack up and fulfilling any other role that needs doing on the day.   

“I volunteer at about six to eight events every year,” said Shane 

“I do a bit of everything including rigging up the speakers so that participants can enjoy some background music. For me, it is about putting something back into the community and making it all run more smoothly for the families and people going through cancer who have enough stress to cope with. I am just trying to make it a little bit easier for them.  

“Volunteers are a key part of the Cancer Research UK events, helping keep the participants and the public safe.  

“Without volunteers the events may not go ahead. Volunteering is great fun and good banter. You make so many new friends from event to event. I would urge anyone to give it a try and see for themselves.” 

Eve Lauder 

Eve Lauder holding her Flame of Hope award

Eve with her award

Just two years ago, Somerset mum Eve Lauder, now 46, was given the shattering diagnosis that her life would be cut short due to an incurable and rare cancer.  

Having been given the devastating news that she had stage 4 goblet cell cancer – a very rare form of cancer with no cure – police officer Eve used the diagnosis as inspiration to focus on what mattered to her – raising awareness and money for research. She has since raised more than £48,000 for Cancer Research UK.    

Eve was one of five recipients of The Jackie Lacey Award for Fundraising Volunteer of the Year at the Flame of Hope ceremony near Bath. 

Despite the regime of different forms of chemotherapy, her cancer has since spread to her liver and lungs. With the finite amount of time Eve has left, she has spent it helping others and fitting in as much into her life as possible.   

There have been raffles, running challenges, bingo, beach rugby, quiz nights and Race for Life events. Eve also organises a glamorous event each year called the Goblet Cell Ball at Weston-super-Mare Pier.

Eve Lauder posing in her commonwealth outfit

Eve modelling her Commonwealth Relay outfit

And her achievements have not gone unnoticed, with a nomination for Pride of Britain regional finalist in 2021 and an invite to carry the Queen’s Relay Baton during the Commonwealth Relay – a once-in-a-lifetime experience. On 5 July 2021, Eve proudly carried the Baton for part of the South-West route.  

“Initially, I decided in February 2021 that I wanted to raise £150 but donations kept coming in and within 28 days it had topped £13,000. Friends and family from all over the world pitched in and I started doing more events such as bingo evenings, a Goblet Cell ball in November and drag queen nights and raffles,” said Eve. 

“The recognition I’ve received has been lovely, but I am just doing what I can to help out. I don’t want to miss a moment of life.” 

Alan Peace 

Alan Peace holding his Flame of Hope award

Alan with his award

Alan Peace, a 77-year-old parish councillor from Wombourne, was named a Cancer Research UK Honorary Fellow at the Nottingham Flame of Hope Awards. 

He received the award in appreciation of his exceptional loyalty and dedication to the cause after single-handedly raising more than £50,000 for Cancer Research UK. 

Alan has spent 20 years fundraising and volunteering for the charity, during which he has tackled countless daring and ambitious challenges and campaigned for major political changes. 

As one of the charity’s longest serving Campaigns Ambassadors, he has worked tirelessly to support campaigns such as ‘Cancer Won’t Wait’ to reduce cancer waiting times. He also successfully helped campaign for a change in the law to remove adverts from all tobacco products in 2016.  

Since Alan’s wife died in 2004, he has taken on several mammoth challenges, including climbing some of the world’s highest mountains, to raise more than £50,000 for Cancer Research UK. 

“I’ve been a mountaineer and trekker for over 60 years and have been in the fortunate position of being able to turn my love of the mountains and the outdoors generally into fundraisers for Cancer Research UK to help the charity find the answer to cancer,” said Alan.  

Supporting progress in cancer research 

Thanks to dedicated supporters and volunteers – just like Susan, Shane, Eve and Alan – we’ve been at the heart of progress that has seen cancer survival in the UK double over the past 40 years.  

At our latest count, we have almost 30,000 registered volunteers supporting us at Cancer Research UK – that’s enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall five times! 

85% of our volunteers tell us they would recommend volunteering at Cancer Research UK to friends and family. If you’ve ever thought about joining us, now’s a great time! Find out more about what you could be doing at