Charity champion: going to new heights to raise funds in memory of mum

Petra (left) on another fundraising drivePetra (left) on another fundraising drive

She’s already abseiled off a tower building in Dundee and cycled between Vietnam and Cambodia, so it’s no surprise that Petra McMillan has another mission lined up this summer: to climb Kilimanjaro.

And it’s not just for fun – it’s to raise money for charity, specifically the Marie Curie cancer care organisation.

Petra, 42, a mother-of-two from Carnoustie, started fundraising six years ago when she lost her own mother Renate to cancer and has dedicated her life to ensuring that other families affected by terminal illnesses receive the same level of care her mother did.

Not only has she raised tens of thousands of pounds for the charity, she has also raised something equally valuable – awareness. Such efforts have not gone unnoticed, with Petra being appointed a charity patron in 2011, and then being nominated in the Scottish Charity Awards, run by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. Winners will be announced on Thursday, June 9.

She says: “It’s certainly an honour to be nominated. Other nominees are just phenomenal, they’re fired up about their charity and give up so much of their time. To be frank, if it weren’t for people like that, then our country would be in a much sorrier state.

“I have been passionate about the work of Marie Curie since my mother Renate died of a brain tumour in 2009. Thanks to the remarkable care of local Marie Curie nurses, my mum spent her final days as she wished – at home, comfortable and with her family around her.

“After she died, my daughter Heidi, who was eight at the time, pulled me back from my grief and reminded me ‘Mummy, we should say thank you.’ She was absolutely right. From then on, I’ve been committed to helping other families receive the same care and support as my mum received when she needed it most.”

The abseil off Dundee University’s Tower Building, now an annual event, has been accompanied by sponsored Highland hikes and various other efforts, but scaling Kilimanjaro will – literally – take her to new heights.

“I signed up to trek Mount Kilimanjaro this summer, that’s a big challenge for me on many fronts. Apart from being at an altitude of nearly 6000m, it’ll also involve six days’ camping without a shower!

“But I’ve always liked the outdoors. I think that sport unifies people, regardless of your wealth or your age, you can walk, run, or even just cycle at a slow pace.”

Her philanthropic efforts don’t stop there; as the migrant crisis started last autumn, Petra used the Dumbuck House Hotel, part of her Dumbarton family business, as a base to fundraise to help the migrants, broadening its normal role as a collection point and hub in the community for Marie Curie.

Petra has an inspirational message for anyone thinking about getting involved in charity fundraising.

“I would say don’t be scared – there’s always an hour you can spare, whether it’s once a year or once a week. In our community, we have our great daffodil appeal where yellow daffodils are sold every March in aid of the community nursing service.

“You can sign up for that and donate two hours of your time every year, and in that time you can raise over £100 for your local community. You can always find a little time.”

For more information on Marie Curie, go here: https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/

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