A MUSICAL pair were amazed to raise almost £16,000 for Swindon’s cancer fund.

Rachel Burbidge and Dawn Ball organised a 24-hour music marathon last autumn.

Pianists, singers and even accordionists played through the night - smashing the pair’s bid to raise the equivalent of £1 a minute.

Rachel said: “When we started out we didn’t have a figure in mind. A 24-hour music marathon just seemed like a good idea. 

“When we realised we’d got loads of interest, we thought, ‘Maybe we can raise £5,000’. That became £10,000.

“To raise over £15,000 is brilliant. 

“I’m really pleased - we’re just amazed.”

Initially planned as a 24-hour music marathon, Dawn and Rachel received enquiries from so many groups that they ended up hosting 36 hours-worth of music across two rooms.

Among the performers were South Swindon MP Robert Buckland and the Swindon Pegasus Brass Band.

They were asked to commit to raising at least £1 for every minute they played. But most smashed their targets. According to Dawn, one managed to raise a staggering £203 – for just one minute of playing time.

Dawn said of the massive fundraising effort: “It just shows the generosity of Swindon people and how many people have been touched by this issue.

“Cancer touches so many people’s hearts.”

The money has been handed over to Brighter Futures’ radiotherapy appeal. Fundraisers want to raise £2.9 million to kit out a state-of-the-art radiotherapy centre at GWH. 

Once built, it will save cancer patients the 70-mile round trip to Oxford’s Churchill Hospital. 

Rachel said of the journey: “It’s such a burdensome thing for people who are feeling ill.”

The pair joined Mayor Maureen Penny and Brighter Futures’ Catherine Newman yesterday to hand over a cheque for £15,780.34. 

Recalling the Autumn event, Catherine Newman said: “It was a beautiful feeling late at night. I walked in and everything was so peaceful. The atmosphere was just lovely.

“The town has just supported the appeal so much. It’s just been incredible. We’ve got the most generous group of people in Swindon.”