The rise and rise of our ScottishPower partnership

Cancer Research UK
Left to right: Heather Smyth, Head of Marketing Communications at ScottishPower; Heather Duff; Cat Cubie; Caro Evans, Director of Partnerships at Cancer Research UK; and Professor Steven Pollard. Image credit: Mark Anderson

Samantha Gharial investigates how a £5m fundraising target grew to over £25m raised towards beating cancer, united employees and engaged more than 500,000 customers

Back in 2012, when Boris Johnson was stuck on a zipwire and London was gripped by Olympic fever, at Cancer Research UK we were setting up our partnership with ScottishPower. The aim? To raise £5m over three years.

Fast forward to today and our partnership shows no signs of abating.

On 28 November 2019, ScottishPower employees and Cancer Research UK representatives descended on 29 Glasgow for an inspiring event hosted by broadcaster Cat Cubie to celebrate the partnership having now raised £25m towards life-saving cancer research.

A large part of this success is thanks to the ‘Help Beat Cancer’ energy tariff, which sees ScottishPower make a donation to Cancer Research UK for every month a customer remains on the tariff. More than 500,000 customers have now signed up – at the time of writing, that’s almost 20% of its customer base.

Employees and suppliers have also thrown themselves into the partnership by getting involved in a host of fundraising events, from bake-offs to golf events, talent shows to Burns’ suppers.

And ScottishPower is also the official energy sponsor of Race for Life and an Official Partner of our Stand Up To Cancer campaign.

This three-pronged attack has united the business, its employees, suppliers and customers in one powerful cancer-crushing collective. And in return for this hard work and dedication, we at Cancer Research UK share important health information and hold workshops for staff and suppliers about reducing cancer risk and understanding the importance of early diagnosis.

At the celebration event, pioneering scientists Professors Steven Pollard and Andrew Biankin were able to bring the impact of this extraordinary fundraising success to life by talking to guests about their research into brain tumours and pancreatic cancer – two of the hardest cancers to treat.

They were joined by Heather Duff, an Edinburgh-based CRUK fundraising manager who is facing her third brain surgery just days before Christmas. Heather was successfully treated for cervical cancer aged 27, but in May 2018 was diagnosed with a brain tumour. “I’d like to thank everyone at ScottishPower who works relentlessly to raise funds, which allows research to continue,” she says. “Research to help bring forward the day when all cancers are cured is what gives my family, my friends and me the hope we need.”

For the dedicated ScottishPower employees, fundraising is much more than a team-bonding exercise. “I’m really proud to be part of this terrific team effort from everybody – the customers, the employees, and the friends and family of the employees,” says Alan Granger, Senior Planning & Investment Accountant. “I know from reading the updates we get from Cancer Research UK that scientists are making progress. In 2008, my father was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour and just a year later he passed away. I was in the meeting with my dad when we were told that there was really nothing they could do but manage it. It was really tough, so I’m always hoping for more progress. And every pound helps, doesn’t it?”

It certainly makes our corporate partnerships team beam from ear to ear to know that ScottishPower is by our side in the fight against cancer. Every hour, around four people in Scotland are diagnosed with the disease, but just last year we were able to spend around £38m in Scotland on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research thanks to supporters and partnerships like this.

Together we have the energy to help beat cancer.

Samantha Gharial is Philanthropy & Partnerships Copywriter at Cancer Research UK