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'I wish I could bottle the atmosphere of the night' – organiser looks forward to return of ‘awe-inspiring’ charity event

By Federica Stefani

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Anthea Fraser and Maria Crawford were models at Catwalk for a Cause 2023. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Anthea Fraser and Maria Crawford were models at Catwalk for a Cause 2023. Picture: Callum Mackay.

An inspirational charity event raising vital funds to support people in end-of-life care and their families returns to Inverness next year.

Catwalk for a Cause, organised by city salon Head Gardener owner Alison McRitchie, will take place at the Drumossie Hotel on February 10, supporting the Highland Hospice and End of Life Care Together partnership in a night showcasing fashion direct from the hospice's own boutique stores and giving a platform to brave individuals to share their personal experiences of cancer and other life-limiting illness.

Last year the event raised £74,500 for lifeline services provided by both charities.

The event raised thousands for the charity in February.
The event raised thousands for the charity in February.

“I always say I wish I could bottle the atmosphere in the room on the night,” Alison said of the event which sees those who are or have been on the cancer journey the chance to shine as fashion models for an evening..

“There are people on the catwalk that are totally out of their comfort zone, but the love and the support that's in the room on the evening are something that is difficult to explain. It's very special.

“It's an incredibly emotional evening, all of the stories are really inspirational and everyone will take something away with them."

Alison started fundraising and volunteering for Highland Hospice after losing her father and sister to cancer between 2010 and 2012, as a way of giving back to the charity for all the support it gave to her family and many others like them.

She herself has battled breast cancer and now lends her hairdressing skills to the hospice's inpatient unit.

Catwalk for a Cause is her way of doing even more for charities that are very close to her heart.

Alison and Steve Mcritchie. Picture: Callum Mackay..
Alison and Steve Mcritchie. Picture: Callum Mackay..

Tickets for the 2024 event are already on sale and organisers are now looking for sponsors and donations for raffles and auctions on the night.

Popular local broadcaster Pennie Stuart, who shared her own experience of breast cancer last year as one of the event’s models, will join STV’s Nicola McAlley in hosting the event.

In addition, Steve Bland from the hit podcast You, Me and the Big C will be back in the Highland capital as guest speaker, joined by Natalie Woodward, who was diagnosed with metastatic bowel cancer at the age of 36.

To add to what is always an incredibly emotional night, Ness Factor 2023 winner Joanne Ross will also be on stage for an exclusive performance.

It’s a chance for the community to come together – and community spirit in the Highlands is something special, according to Alison.

“I think we're really lucky up here,” she said.

“There is something very special, and that's what Steve and Lauren Mahon, who were our guest speakers in February last year, said. They attend a lot of charity events, and a lot of them are more of a box-ticking exercise. But being in the room at the Drumossie in February was like a night out with their family and friends, that was the atmosphere: the love and support in the room – people getting invested and getting behind the cause – was something that they'd never come across before.”

If you are interested in attending Catwalk for a Cause or want to get involved in sponsoring it, please contact Alison McRitchie at info@headgardenerhair.com or Emma Nicol at Highland Hospice via e.nicol@highlandhospice.org.uk

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