Couple’s 25 years fund-raising mission to help The Christie

Ilse and Bob Splaine from Atherton
Ilse and Bob Splaine from Atherton

A couple from Atherton, who have been fund-raising for The Christie charity for 25 years, are celebrating hitting the quarter of a century mark.

Bob and Ilse Splaine, both 79, were determined to reach this milestone after Ilse was given a second chance of life after being treated at The Christie in the late 1980s.

The stalwart fund-raisers are now looking forward to officially ‘retiring’ from fund-raising having raised an incredible £70,000 for the specialist cancer centre over the 25 years.

In 1988 Ilse was given just two months to live following surgery for advanced cancer of the abdomen and ovaries. Bob asked for a second opinion and Ilse was referred to The Christie, where she underwent a successful course of chemotherapy.

Former Christie patient Ilse said; “I have enjoyed everything I have done for The Christie over the last 25 years, it is my way of saying a big thank you.

“We worked hard at it and we’ve had some amazing times, but we always felt The Christie was a place of excellence which is why we wanted to give something back.

“The main reason we carried on fundraising for so long is that I’m here to tell the tale 25 years on. We’re so grateful for what The Christie did for us all those years ago and we’ve had marvellous support from our son, our whole family, the people of Atherton and Atherton Rotary Club where Bob is now President.”

Over the years the couple, who have one son, two granddaughters and a three month old great-grandson, have organised countless events including raffles, tombolas at summer fairs, mulled wine tasting evenings, car boot sales and collections.

But perhaps their most famous events were the tremendously popular ‘strawberry fairs’ which the couple hosted at their home every year for 16 years.

Bob and Ilse Splaine have also done a trio of big sponsored walks – a 102-mile trek along the Cotswold Way, along the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall and 23 miles from Manchester to Wigan Pier along the canal.

Their fund-raising has helped to pay for equipment such as chemotherapy pumps and vital research into cancer. They have also supported building developments such as The Christie’s new £12million Palatine Treatment Centre which houses teenage and young adult cancer services and haematology and transplant inpatient services.

Bob added; “Since 1988, we’ve had a fantastic 25 years – that we wouldn’t have had without The Christie – so we wanted to give something back to the hospital that gave Ilse all those precious years and many more to come.

“We’ve had a fantastic time and met so many different people, who have been so kind and supportive over the years.”

The couple also acted as ambassadors for The Christie charity, attending events and collecting donations.

Community fundraising officer at The Christie charity, Howard Newhall, said; “Bob and Ilse Splaine are such a wonderful couple and we are truly grateful for their amazing fundraising efforts over the last quarter of a century.

“This commitment coupled with their enthusiasm, dedication and passion to raise funds to help other cancer patients at The Christie is nothing short of incredible.

“Huge thanks from everyone at The Christie and we wish them all the best for the future.”

The couple are now looking forward to spending more time working on their allotment and seeing family.