A CROSSFORD woman who was inspired to fight on in the battle against cancer for her late friend has raised an incredible £20,000 for the Western General Hospital to date.

Valerie Matheson and pal Lynne Gibson were both diagnosed with bowel cancer within one month of each other in 2010.

But while Valerie, now 57, recovered, Lynne lost her fight in 2013, aged just 41, leaving two young children behind.

The tragic circumstance spurred Valerie on to raise funds for the oncology unit in Edinburgh where they were both patients, and in 2014 she organised her first charity ball.

Valerie has continued tirelessly with her efforts and, on May 18, will be hosting her third charity ball at Forrester Park which is already sold out.

This year she has been inspired by her friend's grandson, 16-year-old Lee Watson, who is currently battling bone cancer (see page 6).

Hairdresser Valerie said: "Whilst going through our treatment together, me and Lynne would text, phone and visit. We helped and supported each other through the toughest days.

"We cried lots, laughed and sometimes both at the same time.

"When she died I decided I would fight on for both of us.

"It's my third charity ball now and I just have to say a huge thank you to everyone that has helped me along the way.

"There are a lot of generous people and businesses in our community."

About 200 people are attending the ball at the end of the month, where a raffle and auction are taking place.

"It's so close to my heart because I've been through it myself," Valerie added.

"It was just Lynne's anniversary a few days ago, it's just unbelievable and I'm so lucky to still be here.

"The staff are amazing at the Western and I have to thank my doctor for my life.

"At first it was thought I had a hernia because I had a niggle in my groin but it didn't sit right with the doctor.

"There were days when I really didn't think I was going to make it, but I pushed on.

"Now this young boy Lee is really going through it with the chemo and when I found out I just thought we have to keep fighting.

"I'm still here, I believe we can fight cancer and I'll keep raising some money for research and stay strong for Lynne."