On Day 14 of our Christmas advent calendar, we celebrate Jean Holloway’s incredible fundraising, the knitted Santa that took her past £15,000, and her late husband Walter, who's memory she does it all in.
Every 13th of October for the last nine years, Jean makes the same pilgrimage to the Swilken Bridge between the 17th and 18th holes on the Old Course at St Andrews. Standing over the burn, she takes out a hip-flask of Rusty Nail, raises a toast, then pours the rest of the contents into the running water below.
It’s a special moment for Jean. The whisky and Drambuie drink was her husband Walter's favourite, and he loved crossing this bridge when he played one of his many rounds on this famous links course. She remembers all the good times she and Walter had before prostate cancer claimed his life, just shy of their 50th wedding anniversary.
"Walter was a great family man and we had a wonderful life together, raising three daughters, Jacqueline, Janice and Gillian" says Jean.
It was devastating for the girls to see their father suffer as they were very close
His other passion was golf. He joined Cathkin Braes Golf Club, near Glasgow, in 1972, and was a member until his death in 2007, serving as Captain of the club for a year and on the committee for eight. The family had many happy holidays in St Andrews and Walter would regularly play the Old Course, even teaching his grandsons to play golf there.
So when Walter was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, his family were distraught.
"Walter had an aggressive type of prostate cancer," says Jean. "He was well for most of the illness, but went down hill very rapidly as the disease took hold. It was devastating for the girls to see their father suffer from the disease as they were very close."
A year or so after his death, Jean felt it was time to get involved with Prostate Cancer UK.
"I’m a volunteer and I give talks to companies and local community groups, as well as one-to-one support over the phone to others affected by the disease," says Jean, who also tries to raise awareness at her local golf club in Glasgow.
I know that Walter would be proud of me and the girls. Prostate Cancer UK does such great work
But it doesn’t stop there. Jean and the family have been raising a fantastic amount of money, too.
"Together with my three daughters, we've held various fundraising events," says Jean, "including a golf day, a fashion show, lunches at work, dress down days, bag-packing at local supermarkets, and an annual bridge drive."
This Christmas, Jean knitted a Santa doll and held a 'guess Santa’s birthday' competition, charging £1 a guess with the winner taking the doll home with them. The £365 she raised has now pushed Jean’s fundraising total over the £15,000 mark!
"People are so generous and I’m so grateful for the support they give to me and the charity," says Jean. "I know that Walter would be proud of me and the girls. Prostate Cancer UK does such great work and I am hopeful that one day others won’t need to suffer like my husband did."
We'd like to raise a festive glass of Rusty Nail in honour of Jean’s achievements and in memory of Walter. Cheers!