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Not here for the weather!

Rosemary and Alistair Mackie thought weekends in retirement might mean lazy breakfasts reading the newspapers, walks and taking hot holidays away from their home in Norwich city centre. But it was not to be.

Instead they are often getting up in the dark, grabbing a quick coffee and spending most of the day in the all weathers…but it is how they have their fun volunteering for Big C!



Rosemary retired as a primary school teacher in 2010 and two years afterwards was diagnosed with aggressive stage 3 breast cancer. Not wanting to spoil a special 60th birthday weekend in Barcelona for Alistair she only told him on their return when it was confirmed by the consultant. She was operated on in the NNUH in January and as part of her follow-up treatment took part in a couple of medical trials as an outpatient.



Throughout Rosemary remained positive, and cannot speak highly enough of the care she received both in the Breast Care Unit at the hospital and from the Big C Support and Information Centre in Norwich. “There was always a breast care nurse for me if I needed them,” she said. “We had never heard of the Big C Centre, but the unit recommended it and everyone was so welcoming. It was a quiet place for a cup of coffee. Alistair took early retirement as an examiner for driving instructors and took me to chemotherapy, so we both used the Centre. They were so helpful and supportive and you could see the importance of the welfare given in the Centre.”

After she had finished the treatment Rosemary, feeling she wanted to give something back to say thank you for the help, asked if she could help…the first opportunity was with the events team…the rest is history and Rosemary is in remission.



The Mackie’s volunteering memories of 2016…but none of these have put them off!

  • Standing in the wet and cold helping out with the Firewalk in the Forum, thinking no one would turn up - 50 people took part in the Firewalk in the rain! “They were all great people, exceptionally cheerful, completely unaware of the atrocious weather and the crowds turned out to cheer them on.”
  • The Skeyton Goat car rally - volunteering for the fourth year running. “It’s so well organised and attended. They are great people who give everything that day. Everyone is good humoured, the bikers are a generous group and wonderful. We are always happy to be there.”
  • Colour 5K Run at Hoveton Hall Estate – “It was so wet, there was an absolute downpour, people were going everywhere in the muddy car park in a field, but everyone was in good humour.”
“We always come away in such a positive frame of mind,” said Rosemary. ”You never know who you are going to meet and you soon realise doing bucket collections that everyone has a cancer story. Recently we have been on one of the lab tours at the Biomedical Centre and didn’t realise there is so much research that was going on.”

Mackie’s top tips for volunteering at events:
  • Wear loads of layers, especially wellies
  • Always take something to eat and plenty of black bin bags...
  • You need shed loads of diplomacy…especially if you are on car park duty!

If Rosemary and Alistairs tales of adventure have inspired you to become a Big C Events Volunteer, click here to fill out a quick form

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