Laura Campbell: Sci-fi fans’ fundraiser out of this world

Keith Armour at Capital  Sci-Fi Con, Rachel House Visit. Picture by  Mark Harwood
Keith Armour at Capital Sci-Fi Con, Rachel House Visit. Picture by Mark Harwood
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If you were in Edinburgh on the third weekend of February, no doubt you would have seen the hordes of costumed characters which landed in the Capital. Spiderman was spotted on the bus, Chewie queuing for a cashpoint and a Stormtrooper making strides down Princes Street.

Capital Sci-Fi Con hit the city with a bang, attracting more than 7,000 sci-fi and movie fans from all over the UK to the Meadowbank Stadium.

Laura Campbell, Community Fundraiser for CHAS

Laura Campbell, Community Fundraiser for CHAS

Completely not-for-profit, the event raised a staggering £73,608.97 and every penny has been donated to Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS).

Organised by community fundraiser Keith Armour, and his amazing group of volunteers, the event is a showcase of the team’s passion, energy and determination. Now in its second year, Capital Sci-Fi Con has dramatically grown in size and stature.

The inspiration behind Keith’s charity work came after experiencing a succession of difficult years.

Having lost a number of close family members, dealing with two redundancies and a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis for his two-year-old daughter, ­fundraising and giving back to his community became ­particularly important to him. So Keith began to look at ways in which he could make a difference and turn his experiences into something positive.

Following a trip to Rachel House, one of CHAS’ hospices, Keith was inspired by what he saw and the families he met with.

Keith’s passion and enthusiasm for what he does is so inspiring and infectious that his crew of Capital Sci-Fi Con volunteers are rapidly growing. They spend many of their weekends fundraising for CHAS in the community dressed in full superhero and sci-fi costumes – which attracts huge crowds.

A key date in the group’s ­calendar is visiting Rachel House at Christmas, to treat families using the hospice to a special appearance from their favourite Star Wars ­characters. The children (and parents!) love seeing the group dressed up in their costumes which have all been painstakingly made to be as close to the real deal as possible. The event itself is a real celebration of ­sci-fi, fantasy and ­comic book and movie culture. It’s a chance for fans to meet their heroes from the small and silver screen, for Harry ­Potter obsessives to take part in a wand masterclass, Whovians the chance to experience life inside Dr Who’s Tardis and for the very brave, the opportunity to enter the event’s cosplay competition.

At CHAS, we’re overwhelmed by Keith and the rest of the Capital Sci-Fi Con team’s achievements and we can’t thank them enough for their incredible efforts.

It costs more than £10million a year to run our two wonderful hospices, Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch, and provide our CHAS at Home service, which means we can support ­families anywhere in Scotland, in their own homes.

Our ambition is to ensure that we are reaching every single baby, child and young adult with a life-shortening condition in the country, and support them and their ­families. Without Capital Sci-Fi Con, Keith, his volunteers and all of our other supporters, this dream can’t be materialised.

Community fundraisers like Keith bring in a third of our total voluntary income. They allow us to connect with new audiences and raise our ­profile. And it is an area we hope to grow.

No one, not even Keith, could have predicted Capital Sci-Fi Con’s success. So if you’re inspired by his story, why not get in touch with our fundraising team on support@chas.org.uk today and chat about how you could make a big ­difference to the lives of ­families living in Scotland, going through one of the most difficult times of their lives.

To find out more about CHAS, visit us at www.chas.org.uk, follow CHAS on ­Twitter @SupportCHAS, or like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/childrenshospiceassociationscotland

Laura Campbell is community fundraiser for CHAS.