Employees at North East property and renewable energy firm The Banks Group have smashed their 2022 fundraising target for a specialist children’s cancer charity.

The team at the Durham-headquartered firm chose Neuroblastoma UK as their charity of the year after it was nominated by their colleague Gemma Dickenson in honour of Cara McKay, the daughter of her close friends Tom and Issy McKay who sadly lost Cara to the condition in 2020 when she was just three years old.

And having originally aimed to raise around £3,000, the team has now handed over a £5,000 cheque to the charity, which is dedicated to finding a cure for neuroblastoma and to helping to achieve more positive outcomes for young patients with the disease.

A wide variety of fundraising activities and events were organised by members of the Banks team across all its offices and operational sites, ranging from Premier League and World Cup sweepstakes, dress down paydays and raffles through to an international picnic day for which staff at Banks’ Meadowfield head office prepared a range of foods from around the world.

A nine-strong Banks team also took on the Total Warrior event at Bramham Park in Leeds, which involved tackling 30 obstacles along a challenging ten-kilometre course made up of hills, bogs, water hazards and thick mud.

Neuroblastoma is a rare aggressive childhood cancer which affects around 100 children each year in the UK, which is about six per cent of the total number of childhood cancer diagnoses.

It is the second most common solid tumour in children after brain tumours, usually affects children under the age of five, and can occur before a child is born.

Neuroblastoma UK is the only charity in the UK which solely raises money for children with the condition.

“We’re really pleased to be able to give such a great sum to Neuroblastoma UK in honour of a very special little girl.”

Tom McKay said: “Cara was a huge fan of Disney, and loved dressing up, imaginative play, telling everyone what to do and the colour pink!

“Neuroblastoma UK is a charity which is very close to our hearts following her diagnosis in 2017 and Issy and I were absolutely delighted to hear how much the Banks Group team has raised.

“This money will directly fund vital research, not only in the improvement of the diagnosis and treatment for patients suffering with the disease, but it will also go towards Neuroblastoma UK’s overall mission to find a cure for Neuroblastoma to avoid anyone in the future having to go through what Cara did.”

Zafar Zabbar, Senior Philanthropy and Partnerships Manager at Neuroblastoma UK, adds: “ “We are so grateful to everyone at the Banks Group for generously supporting Neuroblastoma UK.

“Despite our very best efforts, neuroblastoma research remains under-funded in the UK.  There’s been some progress, but it’s slow – only one new drug has been developed for children receiving front line neuroblastoma therapy since the 1980s.

“Thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Banks Group and many others, we can fund more research projects to help find new, more effective and kinder treatments for children with this devastating disease.”

Well over £80,000 has been raised in total over the last decade for the Banks employees’ chosen charities, which have included The Alzheimer’s Society, Bright Red, The Tiny Lives Trust, Integrating Children, The Samaritans, Debra, and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

Gemma Dickenson, contracts director at The Banks Group, says: “Colleagues from every part of the business always get involved with our fundraising activities, and we’re really pleased to be able to give such a great sum to Neuroblastoma UK in honour of a very special little girl.”

For more information on Neuroblastoma UK, please visit www.neuroblastoma.org.uk or follow @ NeuroblastomaUK on Twitter.