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Meet the Sponsor

Sarah-Jane Hogg, Charity Director, Friends of ANCHOR.

Published: 6th September 2020

Each year we invite a variety of businesses from across the world of Scottish Gin to be official sponsors. International Scottish Gin Day provides a unique platform for our sponsors to showcase their businesses and brands, provide further insight into their role in the Scottish Gin, spirits, drinks and food & drink supply chain. Their support as official sponsors of International Scottish Gin Day also highlights their commitment as key partners and suppliers in the Scottish Gin industry and provides us with the opportunity to help our audience discover more about the many brilliant businesses involved in Scotland’s thriving and successful Scottish Gin category.

Each year we try and give something back through the International Scottish Gin Day platform, with a sponsorship space reserved for a charity or good cause. We hope this opportunity will provide the charity with a chance to highlight their good work, help people learn more about the charity and discover how they can help and support the charity.

The chosen charity of International Scottish Gin Day 2020 is the Friends of ANCHOR charity, a specialist charity that was established to help raise funds and support people and families who attend the Anchor Unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. The Anchor Unit provides care for people dealing with cancer and haematology from Aberdeenshire, Orkney and Shetland. Through funds raised by Friends of ANCHOR, the charity helps support the unit through equipment for the ward and staff training, investment in medical research and a variety of on-ward services for patient’s well-being. 

Having attended the Anchor Unit since its inception and before, co-founder of The Gin Cooperative Martin Reid has seen first hand the valuable work that the Friends of Anchor charity contribute to the well-being of patients attending the day clinic and ward so we welcome the opportunity to showcase the great work Friends of ANCHOR do. In the first of our Meet the Sponsor feature series, we chat to Sarah-Jane Hogg, Charity Director at Friends of ANCHOR to learn more about the wonderful work they do.

What’s your name and what do you do?

Sarah-Jane Hogg. I’m the lucky one who gets to head up the dreamy squad at Friends of ANCHOR.

What exactly does do Friends of ANCHOR do?

As a local, North-east Scotland charity, we directly support cancer and haematology patients as they go through their treatment. Whether it’s big spend commitments for medical equipment, research that aids new discoveries or the specially tailored wellbeing services and support, we are driven by a burning ambition to deliver the very best for the patients.

Can you give us a brief history of Friends of ANCHOR?

The charity was founded in 1997, by Jim Milne and Dr Andy Hutcheon, who are still at the helm to this day. When the ANCHOR Unit (Aberdeen and North Centre for Haematology, Oncology and Radiotherapy) opened at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary it was acutely recognised that the clinical teams’ ambitions for the delivery of care needed the direct and long-term support of a dedicated charity to bring in additional funds over and above what NHSG could afford.

Every penny donated and raised goes straight to the cause, thanks to the corporate and financial support of local company Balmoral Group. This has been the case since the charity was formed by Friends of ANCHOR and Balmoral Chairman, Jim Milne. Now more than ever, it’s something we are so grateful for; covering everything from the salaries for the fundraising team, all the printing, posting and administrative costs as well as the IT support and laptops the team are currently using to work from home.

What does it mean to be a sponsor of International Scottish Gin Day?

We are very grateful to be part of the events happening all over the country for International Scottish Gin Day. It is lovely to be part of this community spirit with local people and organisations coming together to celebrate an industry that showcases great creativity and ambition, driving tourism, culture and employment.

What are some of the most exciting projects you’ve ever worked on?

This year has looked very different to how any of us could have foreseen 2020, but it’s been extremely rewarding to be able to adapt our wellbeing services to this new virtual world we’re living in to ensure we are still delivering crucial support to patients. The past five months have seen the growth and expansion of some of these, with a new virtual patient support community, online guided mindfulness course and other new initiatives like our hair loss support service.

During the height of the epidemic locally, we provided more than 4,000 nutritious lunches for staff, removing some of the weekly-shopping stresses at a time when navigating the supermarkets felt like it never has before. It was such a practical way of supporting staff and the feedback we received was wonderful.

Those are some of the exciting updates we’ve been working on for patients, but the need for fundraising also continues, and is crucial to our success. We’ve just launched a new virtual challenge to encourage people to enjoy the great outdoors and stay active, which is an open invite to everyone, and it’s a fantastic way to show your support from afar.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

We will continue listening to the staff and patients in the ANCHOR Unit to understand where the need is most. It’s such a fluid situation right now with COVID-19 and NHSG is showing great resilience in continually changing and adapting service delivery for the patients. We need to stay focused and aligned to where the evolving needs are to continue to be an effective and relevant source of support for the staff and patients.

Of course, on the fundraising front we look forward to re-launching our annual events in their usual form. We miss seeing our fundraisers and volunteers, standing alongside them at events, cheering them on at the start lines and even simply being back in a room together. What a day it will be when that happens!

How will you be celebrating International Scottish Gin Day on Saturday 24th October?

It will be a great reason for myself and my husband, Ally, to pour our favourite tipple. We really enjoy trying new craft gins from around the country, so we’ll be sure to have a wee selection ready for the 24th October!  We are very grateful to ISGD for choosing the charity to be a part of the special event. From all of us at Friends of ANCHOR – stay safe and enjoy yourselves.

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