TEENAGE pop sensation Nicholas McDonald teamed up at a dazzling fundraiser with cancer scientist  Emma Shanks who has overcome the disease four times. 

More than £70,000 was raised for Cancer Research UK at the black tie dinner at the Malcolm Group Heritage Centre in Linwood, Lanarkshire. The bash saw X Factor finalist Nicholas of Glasgow sing for the 370 guests from the construction and logistics industry after Dr Shanks who is head of screening at Cancer Research UK’s Beatson Institute in Glasgow revealed in a heartfelt speech exactly how lifesaving research into cancer can be. 

Dr Shanks, 36, said: “I am confident that through research we will find better treatments and improve survival rates for mouth cancer.

"Mouth cancer has not defined who I am or what I am. What I am, most importantly of all, is here. I am here to be a wife and a mother to my children. Mouth cancer is just something that has happened to me and my experiences have been accompanied by a number of blessings and led me to some truly amazing and inspirational people."

Dr Shanks had been celebrating the birth of her daughter , Isobel, two weeks before she was given the news that her mouth cancer had returned for a fourth time. The mum of two from Gartocharn, West Dunbartonshire was first told she had mouth cancer at just 22 when her doctor spotted an ulcer on her tongue that wouldn’t heal.  Since then, she’s endured five operations , including an eight hour operation at the Southern General hospital when a large part of her tongue was removed and replaced with a skin graft from her forearm. But the treatment proved a success and Dr Shanks who also has a son, Jamie, three, is back at work.

She was a VIP guest at the fundraiser on May 10, hosted by sports broadcaster Peter Martin and organised by Nicola Robertson, granddaughter of Malcolm group founder Donald Malcolm who died in 2003 after a long battle with mouth cancer.

Nicola, 26, said:  “The idea for this event all came about at Cancer Research UK’s Emeralds & Ivy Ball in London in 2013 when I said to my dad wouldn’t it be amazing if we had something like this up in Scotland, a mini version … and with the venue of the Heritage Centre at our head office and Grandpa’s 10 year anniversary having just past, I thought it would be a perfect event to organise. 

"The ball was supported by so many of Grandpa’s connections, old and new customers to The Malcolm Group and also close family friends. It was a testament to Grandpa seeing just how much support and generosity was given from so many people. The evening could not have gone any better and the feedback has been amazing, to quote one guest: ‘I would just like to pass on my congratulations for what was one of the very best events I have attended in a long time - a great night out"

"It really does make it all worthwhile. I enjoyed every minute of it and know my Grandpa will be looking down wishing he was there.  It was lovely to have everyone in one place to celebrate a wonderful man. Grandpa’s eldest grandson, also named Donald, read out a very impressive speech sharing with everyone how amazing this man was!  It was an emotional night but also a truly special night."

Prizes at the auction included a week at a luxury villa at Casa Blanco in Spain that sleeps up to 10, an executive box at The Hydro in Glasgow to see Scottish sit com, Still Game including a champagne reception for up to 16 and a signed shirt by Olympic legend, Sir Chris Hoy.

Frances Milner, director of supporter led fundraising  at Cancer Research UK said: “ Last year, Cancer Research UK spent over £1 million on groundbreaking research to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat mouth cancer including supporting an important clinical trial, which aims to improve survival for people with early stage mouth cancer with patients recruited in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Kilmarnock and Falkirk.  

"We receive no Government funding for our research. But with your support, our scientists, doctors and nurses continue to make sure more people survive.  Put simply, we’re powerless without our supporters."

For more details contact Cancer Research UK press manager in Scotland Lisa Adams on 07545 221264 or Lisa.Adams@cancer.org.uk  or Donna Marshall, senior local fundraising manager Scotland on 07918 674575 or Donna.Marshall@cancer.org.uk