Margo ensures cancer awareness for teenagers takes off

Margo Cornish is on a mission to educate, support and raise funds for teenagers fighting cancer. Johanna Bolhoven visited her at her Prestbury home to find out more about her charity work.

Margo is a former human resources manager married to Charlie, CEO of the Manchester Airport Group and the mother of four beautiful children.

She is an ambassador for Teenage Cancer Trust, a trained volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the brainchild behind unique charity events ‘Runway on the Runway’, ‘Raid my Wardrobe’, and ‘Fly Back to the 80s’.

Glaswegian born and bred, Margo first moved to England in 2002. After a short stint in Henley-on-Thames, the family moved to Cheshire and quickly settled into life in the delightful village of Prestbury “I have found my Utopia inCheshire. We benefit from the beauty of the Cheshire countryside, which is just minutes from our doorstep, while enjoying the sheer convenience of city living with shops and amenities within easy reach “We really do have the best of both worlds”.

Margo has always had a keen interest in working with young people and, because she recognises how fortunate she is, she wanted to give something back to the community.

Her first foray into the charitable sector was as a volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, helping make wishes come true for children with life threatening illnesses.

During 2012 Margo visited more than 30 children in Manchester and the surrounding area, an experience that totally changed her life “It really opened my eyes to the terrible stress suffered by families caring for a seriously ill child. As a mother of healthy and vibrant teenagers, I find it especially poignant meeting teenagers with cancer. Cancer treatment is a life changing, shattering experience…. especially at that age.”

Margo tells Johanna Bolhoven about her fundraising plans

Over 200 young people in the north west are diagnosed with cancer each year however, with the exception of smoking, adolescents’ awareness of cancer risk factors is considered to be low.

Raising cancer awareness among young people has the potential to increase their knowledge and confidence in identifying cancer symptoms and seeking timely medical help.

Margo added “More awareness leads to earlier diagnosis, which in turn leads to better prognosis, but because there is so little awareness of teenager cancer, particularly in the north-west, teenagers and their parents can often ignore symptoms and leave it too long before going to see their doctor.”

Inspired to raise money to help, Margo developed a five-year fundraising activity plan that includes a bi-annual fashion show extravaganza, ‘Runway on the Runway’, and a series of black tie charity ball events.

The theme for the first ‘Runway on the Runway’ event, which took place in March last year, was ‘Prom’ and 12 models, chosen from ten local schools, were given the opportunity to sparkle in the latest exclusive prom fashions generously donated by designers Sherri Hill, Mori-Lee, Vicky Martin, Forever Unique, Ted Baker, Lipsy, Little Mistress, BCBG, Coast and Manchester’s own Nicola Metcalfe.

The idea for this unique theme came from Margo’s daughters` enjoyment of her own Prom night “I remember the excitement of finding the perfect dress, the ritual of getting ready and of her feeling like a princess in this amazing outfit. I wanted these young girls to experience this and to feel beautiful at a time when they might not.”

The event was held at Manchester Airport’s stunning Concorde Conference Centre, home to one of aviation’s most iconic symbols, Concorde.

Margo’s charitable efforts were recognized and the event achieved high profile coverage in the local media, including Granada Television, and raised more than £40,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Teenage Cancer Trust and Medcare, the designated charity for Manchester Airport.

The next ‘Runway on the Runway’ will be taking off again in 2015, this time with all the profits going solely to Teenage Cancer Trust.

In the meantime Margo is busy developing two spin-off initiatives, the ‘Cinderella Project’, a very special make-over service, and ‘Raid my Wardrobe’, a fashion fundraising event working with local schools, including King’s Girls School in Macclesfield, where girls buy and sell quality pre-loved clothing and accessories.

Last year the Cinderella Project helped make prom night very special for three deserving young ladies.

The gorgeous Ellie, the face of the Cinderella Project, is currently battling leukemia and awaiting a bone marrow transplant. Ellie received a top notch Sherri Hill dress and Benefit glam-up to make her the belle of the ball courtesy of the Runway on the Runway team. She said: “when I was ‘cinderella’d’, the beautiful dress and fantastic makeover made me feel more than normal again. It made me feel special and beautiful especially when heads at prom started turning”

Commenting on the Cinderella Project, Margo said: “We hope we go from strength to strength with this project and make dreams come true for some more deserving young girls this year.”

‘Raid my Wardrobe’ invites schoolgirls to raid their own wardrobes and donate unwanted fashion items that could then be bought by other girls via a pop-up shop in their school.

As well as the enjoyment of being able to buy clothes, the girls learn valuable business skills and, above all, learn a very valuable lesson about the prevalence of teenage cancer and how early diagnosis can help save lives.

‘Raid my Wardrobe’ is currently being rolled out by the Teenage Cancer Trust to schools in the North West with the hope that it will eventually become a national initiative.

Margo’s key fund raising initiative for 2014 is a ‘Fly Back to the 80s’ black tie charity ball to be held in the Concorde Hangar at the Runway Visitor Park at Manchester Airport on Saturday 27 September.

Guests will enjoy a nostalgic and fun-packed 80’s extravaganza, featuring acts from this decade as well as a special 80’s themed menu designed by a celebrity chef. Guests will also be treated to a very special performance by young, local, current and former oncology patients. Tickets will be available soon.

Margo said: “I couldn’t do any of this without the help of my remarkable ‘Runway on the Runway’ team and we have been overwhelmed by the support received from our local community. The people ofCheshireare renowned for their kindness and these events just wouldn’t possible without our generous sponsors and supporters, most of whom give their time and expertise for free, enabling us to give all the money we raise to our charities.

We have achieved so much but we are just getting started. There is so much more that needs to be done to raise awareness and we also want to raise enough money to help fund a pilot out-reach service; at the moment only 60% of teenage cancer patients have access to the valuable support provided by the Teenage Cancer Trust due to geographically remote areas, and we need to be able to help improve the lives of ALL teenagers living with cancer.”

When not hard at work, Margo enjoys looking after her beloved dogs, and spending time with family and friends. She describes herself as “a mover and shaker, not a [charity] can shaker” and we couldn’t agree more.

If you would like to donate an auction or raffle prize for the ‘Fly Back to the 80s’ charity ball; sponsor or get involved in one of these amazing projects, or can help in any way, please email Margo at margo@runwayontherunway.co.uk. School toolkits for ‘Raid My Wardrobe’ events are also available. For more information visit www.runwayontherunway.co.uk.

To find out more about the signs and symptoms of teenage cancer and on the work of the Teenage Cancer Trust please visit www.teenagecancertrust.org

 

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