A DALGETY BAY volunteer who overcame cancer but lost her husband to the disease has received a national award in recognition of her determination to help others.

Rosemary Cruickshank was named a Cancer Research UK Honorary Fellow at a ceremony hosted by chairman Sir Leszek Borysiewicz in the Merchant Taylors’ Hall in London.

The annual Flame of Hope Awards acknowledge remarkable efforts in fundraising and volunteering and the 77-year-old has helped out in the charity's Dunfermline East Port shop since 1991.

Rosemary said: “I just couldn’t believe my ears when the shop staff told me I’d won a Flame of Hope fellowship.

“I love my days at the shop. I’ve been so lucky to have met the most wonderful people as a volunteer and now count many of these staff and customers as close friends.

"It was such a special day at the awards ceremony listening to stories of courage from people across the UK who have tackled cancer head-on.”

Rosemary was heartbroken after her first husband, Len Anderton, died from bowel cancer aged just 46 in July 1987.

But watching his battle against the disease made her determined to help prevent other families from losing their loved ones.

She became an integral part of the shop staff and it was a shock when she was also diagnosed with bowel cancer in March 2005.

Thankfully, the doctors who treated her at the Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline explained it had been detected early.

Rosemary took time out from her volunteering role while recovering from surgery and three months of chemotherapy.

But she was soon back behind the till and also took part in the survivors’ lap at the Cancer Research UK Relay for Life event in Dalgety Bay.

Sadly, Rosemary’s second husband, Alex Cruickshank, who she had married in October 1990, fell ill with Parkinson’s disease.

He died aged 83 in January and she returned soon afterwards to volunteering in the shop, still keen to help others.

Rosemary, who has two children and four grandchildren, attended the Flame of Hope awards with her daughter, Louise Buchanan, 50.

She was among 55 individuals and groups from across the UK to be recognised at the ceremony.

Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for Scotland, Lisa Adams, said: “These awards are our way of honouring incredible people like Rosemary who give their time freely to raise money for research and promote greater awareness of the disease, and yet ask for nothing in return.

“It’s thanks to the support of the fundraising public and our amazing army of volunteers that we can continue to make a real difference and bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”

Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, Cancer Research UK spent £38 million last year in Scotland on scientific and clinical research.

Cancer survival in the UK has doubled since the early 1970s and it has been at the heart of that progress.

Michelle Mitchell, the charity's chief executive, said: “Without any government funding for the work we do, Cancer Research UK needs to ensure that people understand why their support is so important and how we can beat cancer together. Today, two in four people survive their cancer for at least 10 years.

"With the help of volunteers and supporters and by building the strongest possible team and working collaboratively, we can achieve the charity’s ambition of three in four people surviving their cancer by 2034.”

For more information about Cancer Research UK visit cruk.org