A charity set up in memory of a North-east toddler has passed the £500,000 milestone.
Kayleigh’s Wee Stars (KWS), based in Oldmeldrum, reached the figure after its annual cycle event saw the number of entrants double in the space of a year.
The event, held in Ballater, saw 260 participants cycle 57 and 95-mile routes.
The charity, founded by Jonathan and Anna Cordiner, was started in 2012 after the death of their two-year-old daughter Kayleigh from an atypical teratoid rhaboid tumour, a type of terminal brain tumour.
Having taken time off work as primary teachers to make the most of Kayleigh’s last months, Jonathan and Anna set up KWS in order to provide financial support for other families who may not have the support network they had.
The 2017 Ballater fundraiser, which alone raised more than £10,000, was supported by TechnipFMC, which set up corporate teams and a JustGiving page to raise further funds.
Along with the annual cycle event, which took place last weekend, KWS also organises and hosts a 10k race in Barra which is now in its third year.
Participants of the challenging cross country run must make the 1km ascent of Barra Hill, near Oldmeldrum, and cross the site of the Battle of Barra, which took place more than 700 years ago.
Anna said: “It’s a route Jonathan ran when Kayleigh was poorly so it has a special meaning.”
The inaugural 10k race in 2016 raised £15,000, and both events have attracted 300 entrants.
As well as organising its own events, Kayleigh’s Wee Stars has attended many sports gatherings over the years including the Newmachar 10k, Beast Race, Hazlehead ParkRun and the Extreme North Quarathon in Ireland.
It has also hosted a number of fundraisers including ladies days, sponsored slims, jumble sales and raffles.
Jonathan, the head teacher of Meiklemill School in Ellon, said: “We are also extremely lucky that people often choose KWS to raise funds for by being sponsored at sporting events. A main source of our charity income is when we are a business’s nominated charity for the year. This current year ASCO has pledged to raise £50,000 to split between ourselves and SANDS, and TechnipFMC sponsored our cycle ride.”
The £500,000 raised by Jonathan and Anna, along with their close friends Nicola and Ewan Alexander and Keith Paterson, will go towards families across the country living with a terminal illness.
Anna said: “Our main aim is to relieve the financial pressure on these families and allow parents to take time off work to spend with their child.
“We make sure that each family receives enough money to make a significant difference to their circumstances.”
She added: “For example, we recently cleared the debts of one family who had built up a credit card bill struggling to survive on one wage.
“We also gave them money on top of this to relieve financial pressure totalling £8,000.
“We also supported a local family to allow parents to take time off work totalling £15,000.”
Looking back on the charity’s work, the couple, parents to Charlotte, 4, and Emma, 2, admitted they were overwhelmed with the progress they have made.
Anna said: “When we set up Kayleigh’s Wee Stars we had no idea it would grow as big as it has and that we would be able to support so many families.
“Jonathan and I are overwhelmed that we have raised half-a-million pounds and we know that the main reason for the charity’s success is the amazing team of family and friends at the heart of it. Although we would much rather have Kayleigh with us, we are incredibly proud that our little girl has made such a huge difference to so many people.”
Donations to Kayleigh’s Wee Stars can be made online here