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The Kevin Williamson Cup for new cancer cures

14th September 2021

Gaby Williamson, an Ayrshire teenager who lost her beloved dad Kevin to cancer in 2020, has committed herself to creating a lasting legacy in his memory by raising £200,000 to fund an entire Worldwide Cancer Research project in his name. Her first big fundraising event, the Kevin Williamson Cup, was held at Ayr Rugby Club on Friday 13th August 2021.

Gaby created an Instagram account in lockdown called 'Let's Blether' to help herself and others deal with the effects of grief after losing her dad. Diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in October 2018, sadly the cancer then spread to Kevin's liver, lungs and stomach, and he passed away aged just 49 in June 2020. 

Losing Kevin left a huge hole in the Williamson family's lives, but Gaby, mum Victoria, brother Findlay and sister Poppy now want to do something positive in his memory - something that will help other families living and dealing with cancer. 

Kevin was a former player at Ayr Rugby Club and Findlay currently plays for Ayr’s over-18’s team, so an exhibition game between Findlay's team and Kevin's former teammates seemed like the perfect focus for a fundraising extravaganza to kick off the family's goal of raising £200,000 to fund an entire research project with Worldwide Cancer Research. 

Sadly, around 8,500 people in the UK died from oesophageal cancer in 2020. It's a type of cancer that many people don't know much about, so we asked our experts to answer some key questions.

The Kevin Williamson Cup

The first event was a Q&A with David Sole - former Scotland and British Lions player and Chair of the Board of Trustees at Worldwide Cancer Research. The event was hosted by charity supporter and sports presenter, David Tanner, who said:

“It was lovely to be able to help with the Williamson family with their fundraising work. I’m so impressed with how someone as young as Gaby has dealt with bereavement, using it as a spur to raise £200,000 that Worldwide Cancer Research will use to work on finding a cure for the disease that took her dad from her."

A second event quickly followed, with a charity rugby match kicking off the very same evening – The Kevin Williamson Cup – sponsored by Ayr Rugby Club. David Sole presented the cup to the winning team, ‘The Youngsters’, where Gaby’s brother, Findlay, was the team captain. The opposing team was ‘The Geriatrics’ – Kevin’s former teammates.

All of the money raised as part of Kevin’s legacy will be used to start a new research project, backing a scientist in their quest to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat oesophageal cancer. A research project typically costs £200,000 and lasts for around three years.

Since Worldwide Cancer Research was founded in 1979, we have funded over £200million of research in over 30 countries. We are currently funding two oesophageal cancer research projects, worth over £460,000.

One project, led by Dr Maria Alcolea in England, aims to identify ways to diagnose oesophageal cancer sooner. The other, led by Dr Denes Hnisz in Germany, aims to understand how oesophageal cancer develops to start the development of new treatments.

Photo credit: East and West Event Photography
We chose Worldwide Cancer Research due to the amazing research breakthroughs the charity has already funded. Being able to fund an entire research project in Dad’s name would be such a fitting tribute to a man who meant the world to us, and as a family we’re focusing all our efforts into making it happen, however long it takes.
Gaby Williamson

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