Lorna Dempsey decided to act after losing a close friend to breast cancer and her efforts have seen her raise almost half a million pounds and receive a national award from Cancer Research UK.

She was awarded a Flame of Hope Award for 2020 in acknowledgement of her remarkable fundraising and volunteering.

Mum-of-one Lorna of Dalmellington, scooped the fundraising volunteer of the year accolade, beating off stiff competition from across the UK.

She was congratulated at an online presentation on Friday, October 16 in place of a ceremony in London hosted by Cancer Research UK’s chairman, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, which had to be cancelled to protect the country’s health during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Lorna was first inspired to fundraise after a friend died from breast cancer aged just 32. Since then, Lorna’s exceptional dedication has seen her lead a committee that’s raised £480,000 with imaginative events including an annual Butterfly Ball and a Butterfly Bazaar ladies day out.

Lorna, 42, said: “I called them Butterfly events as they reminded me of my friend, arty, flighty and beautiful.

“I was determined to do everything I could to help people going through cancer.”

In 2014, Lorna added an annual 10K Hillbilly cross country run at Craigengillan estate near Dalmellington to the events portfolio helped by her brother Brian Yates, 38.

Cumnock Chronicle: Lorna and brother, Brian at the start of the Hillbilly 10k in February 2020.Lorna and brother, Brian at the start of the Hillbilly 10k in February 2020.

The fun run raised more than £4,000 after going ahead in February this year but the other Butterfly events planned for later in 2020 had to be cancelled as the pandemic unfolded.

Lorna said: “We would have hit the half a million mark if 2020 had been an ordinary year. But we’ll get there and we’ll come back stronger.

“Cancer is such a cruel disease. Almost everyone knows someone who has been through it and I believefunding research is the key to saving more lives.”

Lorna, a production manager, runs all the events from her butterfly-themed spare bedroom, supported by her husband Craig Dempsey, 42, and daughter Eve, five.

She’s also built up a strong friendship with Cancer Research UK fundraising committee on the Isle of Lewis, sharing ideas for hosting events and even visiting the island on holiday.