Big thank you from

Jenny Munro talks to Laura Johnston

Laura Johnston LAURA Johnston, 31, is Fundraising Manager with Macmillan Cancer Support. It is her responsibility to look after all fundraising in the Belfast and Lisburn areas. Macmillan Cancer Support aims to improve the lives of people affected by cancer.

It is a source of support providing practical, medical, emotional and financial support. Laura, a trained teacher, is married and lives in Bangor.

No two days are ever the same in this very busy job. I leave the house everyday at 7.45am and drive from Bangor to Belfast - although it is only 12 miles it feels much much longer with the very heavy traffic.

After a cup of tea my first job is to prioritise my work. Being a fundraising Manager means juggling a lot of different things at once so organising myself at the start of the day is a must for me.

On any given day I could be working on a number of projects. At the moment I am spending time organising a zipline across the River Lagan on Saturday June 9. This incorporates organising the actual event, PR and making sure that we get people signed up to do it.

Macmillan receives no government funding so we rely completely on the generosity of the public. I have to work hard to ensure that we reach target and therefore continue to provide vital cancer services in the local area. Without the support of the public Macmillan could not do what it does.

I get to speak to people from all walks of life and often hear their very personal reasons for supporting Macmillan.

While many of these stories are sad I feel really humbled that out of such an upsetting time many people want to give something back and help other people in a similar position.

As Macmillan have just opened their first Support and information Centre on the Lisburn Road in Belfast I am spending time gaining support and publicity for this service.

While we still need to raise £380,000 to fund this project it is also important that the public are aware of it. Macmillan wants to make the lives of people living with cancer a little easier and we can only do that if people are aware of what we do.

The Support and Information Centre - the first of its type in Northern Ireland - will help people affected by cancer to understand anything they need to know, explain to them any steps that need to be taken and guide them through the entire process, making it as easy as possible for them. Services within the centre will include a drop-in cancer information zone, complementary therapies room, hairdressing and wig fitting, finance and benefits advice and carer support and counselling.

At a cost of £1.25 million to complete we have to date successfully raised around �800,000 from the generosity of the public. But we need continued support to help us meet our target.

I also spend part of my day supporting the various Fundraising Committees with their work.

These groups of volunteers are based across Northern Ireland and give up their time to raise funds for cancer patients in their local area. Macmillan desperately needs volunteers from Lisburn. Even if someone can only give one hour each year that will make a real difference to a person living with cancer.

I am currently organising an Information Evening to be held at the Island Civic Centre on Tuesday April 3 at 7.30pm. This is a really great opportunity to find out what we are doing to help people in your area and perhaps see how you could get involved, even in a very small way

Another part of my day is spent drawing up proposals to gain support from corporate partners. Again this is really time consuming as we have a lot of competition.

At the end of the day I try to leave work at 5pm but generally have to stay a bit later to clear up � then it's that drive home again. I don't really mind because although fundraising is a difficult job with so many competitors, I really love my job. There can be tough days when it feels that everywhere you turn you get a `no' but then there are great days when on that drive home I can tell myself I have made a difference and that is what is special about this job.

Like most people I love to relax and spend time with my friends so when possible that's what I do.

Ulster Star