Ribble Valley luncheon club close to hitting £1m charity milestone

The Ribble Valley and White Rose Ladies

The Ribble Valley and White Rose Ladies

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Features writer

THEY don’t simply lunch, the Ribble Valley and White Rose Ladies fund raise, too — and they are about to top the £1million mark.

As they begin their 15th year of backing research into children’s cancers, the tireless, yet fun-loving members of the luncheon club is just £30,000 off a major milestone.

After raising £132,00 during 2012, secretary and founder, Karen Weaving, who radiates an infectious enthusiasm and zest for the cause, has no doubts the accounts’ ‘in’ column will show seven figures and more by the end of the year.

The signs for the club’s remarkable success were there, back in 1998, when Karen, who then ran Stirk House Hotel at Gisburn, with her husband Malcolm, staged a ball for Cancer Research Campaign, which raised £10,000.

Urged by the charity to continue her remarkable success by starting a luncheon club, her first attracted 300 ladies, all wearing their best hats and raised £3,000.

Ribble Valley Ladies Luncheon Club was born — though it’s now known as RV&WRL after Karen’s move to the Rendezvous Hotel, Skipton, some years ago.

The club is today run by an exuberant committee of eight and over the years has seen Lady Waddington, Jana Khayat, former chairwoman of Fortnum and Mason and Santa Montefiore, sister of Tara Palmer Tomkinson, as its president.

Said Karen: “I am proud to be involved with the hard-working committee who together have received numerous accolades for their commitment and dedication not just to raising vital funds for Cancer Research UK but specifically for research into childhood cancers.

“What makes us so different as a committee is that we are all friends and enjoy socialising away from club meetings.”

Supporters include Lord Shuttleworth, who has just agreed to become its patron, while the Duke of Gloucester, president of Cancer Research UK, has dined with them twice.

Today, 90 ladies lunch five times a year, enjoy an annual black tie ball — the last one last week raised £33,000 — and an array of activities.

Businesses and organisations throughout the area add their own fundraising support and they come together to celebrate their year’s achievement, in an event known as Relay for Life — a 24-hour run, walk, step or jog around a track, backed by live entertainment, a barbecue and the encouragement of family and friends.

Cancer survivors are always invited for lunch and to run the first lap and Karen admitted: “That can be very emotional for us all.”

For this year, however, the committee has a different idea in mind, though details are not set to be revealed until the end of the month, when there will also be a club relaunch, designed to attract more young women to the cause.

Karen Menderos, wife of a former High Sheriff of Lancashire, Dennis Menderos, has been luncheon club chairman for the past two years and said: “Working with the ladies is challenging, stimulating, invigorating and great fun, too.

“It’s immeasurably satisfying to be a part of this passionately committed group of women who never weary of supporting the research we all hope will eventually eradicate childhood cancers.

“I am constantly moved by the enormous efforts of all who contribute to fighting cancer.”

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