Charity champion Laura honoured for her work

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Former Edinburgh cancer nurse Laura Lee has been recognised for her role in building one of Scotland's best-known charities.

The chief executive of Maggie's Cancer Care has been named Scotland's top charity champion.

Laura Lee cared for Maggie Keswick Jencks - after whom the charity is named - at the city's Western General hospital.

Since Mrs Keswick Jencks' death in 1995, Mrs Lee has worked to establish the organisation, creating 15 support centres across the UK, including one at the Craigleith hospital.

In her typical style, the 43-year-old was not able to collect the prestigious award from the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations in person because she was busy in Norway discussing terms for a new centre in Aberdeen.

Charity bosses said the achievement made Maggie's 15th anniversary this year feel even more notable.

Speaking after the ceremony in Edinburgh, Mrs Lee, who now lives in London with her husband and three children, said: "I am so honoured to be named SCVO's charity champion of the year.

"I must say, I am filled with optimism and hope for the future of the charitable sector across Scotland, having read about all the nominees for this year's awards.

"I was particularly taken by six-year-old Jack Henderson, who raised 20,000 through his Jack Draws Anything website - such a fabulous idea.

"It is a great year for us as we celebrate our 15th birthday. I must take the chance to thank all our supporters across the years, as each and every one of them is a charity champion in my mind, and I accept this award on behalf of them all.

"Maggie and I became strong friends all those years ago and I feel extremely privileged to have been able to take forward her vision - she is my inspiration every day."

A year after her friend's death from breast cancer, she left the secure world of nursing to embark on the rather more uncertain Maggie's project.

She had discussed with Maggie the challenges of being a cancer patient, and what facilities could be created for patients and their families to improve the overall experience.

They devised centres that would offer emotional support, practical advice and the chance to talk to those in the same boat, all over a cup of tea in a relaxed, sympathetic environment.

Now, 15 years on from its creation, it is one of the best-loved and most familiar brand names on the cancer charity map, and frequently is the subject of major fundraising drives from people across the country.

Mrs Lee was born in Peterhead, and moved to Edinburgh to work as a cancer nurse at the Western.

When Maggie's became a UK-wide organisation, she relocated to London to push its reputation further.