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Inverness woman helps raise £60k for CHAS following Sahara trek in memory of 15-year-old sister

Joanne and Dawn
Joanne and Dawn

An Inverness woman has helped raise £60,000 for Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) by trekking across the Sahara desert in recognition of the care given to her late sister.

Joanne Sinclair’s sibling Dawn suffered from Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Scoliosis and Developmental Delay and sadly died, aged just 15, on Boxing Day 2018.

Joanne, 27, who works in the Children’s Ward at Raigmore Hospital, signed up to do CHAS’s Sahara Trek in memory of “Princess” Dawn who was adopted into the family when she was just two years old.

“She very quickly became the boss,” Joanne recalls.

“She was hilarious, with a wicked sense of humour, loved a giggle and a nonsense, and to be centre of attention.

“She had some challenges – she couldn’t walk or talk, she was tube fed from around the age of eight and she was prone to chest infections and asthma attacks, resulting in numerous hospital admissions but whatever was going on, she was the happiest, smiliest, bravest princess anyone ever met.”

Joanne joined 14 other intrepid explorers on the four-day expedition including Scottish actor James Mackenzie, star of hit TV show Raven.

Joanne and Dawn.

As well as braving up to 50 degrees heat the team bravely climbed to the top of the famous Chigaga Dunes.

The venture was CHAS’s second extreme challenge following a 50-mile trek into the Arctic Circle last year which raised £45,000.

The collective amount raised by all 15 trekkers is currently sitting at over £60,000 with Joanne personally raising £3,000 through her justgiving page.

Joanne said she was “thrilled” to have helped raise so much for CHAS because of the care Dawn received by staff at both Rachel House and the CHAS at Home team and the support given to her family.

“Because of them I was able to take Dawn to see her favourite singers like Ed Sheeran, go to Disney on Ice, see Caley Thistle in the League Cup Final and visit the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo,” she said.

CHAS also helped Joanne and her family make arrangements for Dawn to be brought home from hospital after she passed away in December 2018.

Joanne continued: “Words cannot express how much comfort we took from having our princess at home with us, rather than somewhere else on her own. The support of CHAS got us through the worst days of our lives and the staff continue to support us.

“This is why I decided to do the Sahara trek to enable CHAS to continue to provide invaluable support to children with life limiting and life shortening conditions, and their families.

“I would like to thank everyone who has donated so far from the bottom of my heart.”

Challenge Events Manager Scott Maxwell said: “We are so grateful to Joanne for completing the Sahara Trek in memory of Dawn and raising much needed funds which will help keep the joy alive for so many families across Scotland.

“We rely on the generosity of supporters to raise much needed funds to help us with our mission of reaching every single baby, child and young person in Scotland with a life-shortening condition.”


The next CHAS charity challenge will be a Kilimanjaro trek in September 2021. For further details or to request a fundraising pack click here. 

CHAS is also appealing for donations in the run up to and including the festive season to help all children with life shortening illnesses and their families to create special Christmas memories that will last a lifetime. 

Find out how you can help here.