Belter of a ball raises an amazing £35k for hospice

Nicola Malcolm is a horserider and showjumper, works for her dad's haulage and construction company, and is busy planning her wedding for next summer.

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Nicola Malcolm with a model of the new hospice at the Prince And Princess Of Wales Hospice
Nicola Malcolm with a model of the new hospice at the Prince And Princess Of Wales Hospice

Nevertheless, the 25-year-old pulled off a fundraising feat that has stunned the campaign team at the Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow.

She raised £35,000 for the Evening Times-backed Brick By Brick appeal by organising a black tie dinner at Airth Castle, near Falkirk.

Fundraisers at the hospice believe this is one of the largest amounts generated by someone as young as Nicola.

Nicola said: "I never put a target on what I thought it was going to raise, because I had no idea, but I never guessed at anywhere near £35,000.

"I thought £10,000 would be really nice – that would be a lot of money.

"It was weird when guests were all walking into the room. I was thinking, 'You have all paid to come to an event I have organised and trust me that I've done this correctly'. That was scary!"

Her bash, entitled It's A Belter Ball, saw 240 guests from the construction and logistics industry bid for auction and raffle prizes.

The prizes included a framed shirt worn by Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo; backstage passes for The Graham Norton Show in London and for Ronan Keating at the Clyde Auditorium; and a table for 10 people at the Emerald And Ivy Ball in London.

Nicola's event was hosted by actress and comedienne Karen Dunbar and featured entertainment from Britain's Got Talent nursery rhyme singer Edward Reid.

Heather Manson, the hospice's capital appeals manager, said: "As a beneficiary event, in which someone has taken on an event to run on our behalf, this was phenomenal. It is a fantastic sum of money.

"We knew Nicola would do well, but I don't think any of us expected it to raise that kind of figure."

The Gorbals hospice has a special place in Nicola's heart.

Her late grandfather, Malcolm group founder Donald Malcolm, helped clear the site for the hospice's day centre in 1995.

Her dad, Andrew, followed in his footsteps by running a marathon for the hospice – and the whole Malcolm family have been bitten by the bug.

After graduating with a degree in sports management from Caledonian University, Nicola, from Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, began volunteering with the hospice's events team every Friday.

She finished second in its A Little Less Strictly Come Dancing contest at Glasgow's Hilton hotel last year, competing against Kathleen McDermott and Radio Clyde DJ Romeo.

In September, Nicola and cousin Victoria Howie raised almost £1300 for the Yorkhill Children's Foundation by running the half marathon of the Great Scottish Run.

Nicola is running Edinburgh's Half Marathon next May to fundraise for her to make a humanitarian trip to Kenya next September with a Christian charity.

She is also a well-known figure in equestrian circles, regularly travelling around Britain for showjumping events. "I have just grown up with horses. I was on mum's horse before I knew how to walk," said Nicola.

A fall from her horse at the Burghley Horse Trials, Lincolnshire, in September 2010 made headlines. She was airlifted to hospital, but was discharged the following day.

And it was after organising an event for the British Showjumping Association in January that Nicola approached Steven McLeod, of Airth Castle, about organising a ball for the Prince And Princess Of Wales Hospice.

A chance meeting with Steve Bryant, the managing director of Scot JCB, in her dad's office in Linwood led to her securing a main sponsor for her 'Belter' Ball.

"I just chanced it. I said: 'Fancy being involved?'," said Nicola. "I put a little pack together and went to meet him one day. It went from there.

"Once you start the conversation, then it's fine, but you do feel a bit funny thinking, 'I need to ask you for money.'"

Nicola does not have a job title with the Malcolm Group and is concentrating on learning the ropes of the business.

She has already fixed the date for next year's It's A Belter Ball at the same venue – November 15.

Before then, she will marry fiance David Robertson at her family's home in Kilbarchan in August.

David, who also works for the Malcolm Group, is competing in A Little Less Strictly Come Dancing at the Hilton in March, which could spark a little dance floor rivalry between the couple.

"As long as David doesn't win it, that's all that matters," jokes Nicola.

"I've told him he has to get a spray tan, but he has said, 'No chance!'. I can't wait to see him dance.

"Everyone keeps asking what will be our first dance at the wedding, and I say it will be the jive.

"It could be different!"

maureen.ellis@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Charity

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