Mistress cutler challenges Sheffielders to show their steel and help turn £50 into £200,000 for charity

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Sheffield's mistress cutler has thrown down the gauntlet as she seeks to raise more than £200,000 for two charities close to her heart.

The cutlery industry's leading lady has challenged teams to compete to turn £50 into a life-changing sum for seriously-ill babies and for children affected by cancer.

Sheffield's mistress cutler Dr Julie Edwards

Sheffield's mistress cutler Dr Julie Edwards

The good causes set to benefit from this year's Mistress Cutler's Challenge are The Children's Hospital Charity and Cavendish Cancer Care.

The money raised will fund equipment needed in the Neonatal Surgical Unit at Sheffield Children's Hospital to give newborns requiring major treatment the best chance of a full and healthy life.

It will also help Cavendish Cancer Care to provide therapy for dozens of children affected by cancer, and to create a dedicated hub for its children's service.

The city's mistress cutler Dr Julie Edwards, who along with her husband Richard acts as an ambassador for the region's steel and cutlery trade, urged people to take on the mission and make this a record-breaking year.

Sheffield's mistress cutler Dr Julie Edwards with The Star's editor Nancy Fielder, Beverly Nevill, the mistress cutler's assistant, and representatives from the Children's Hospital Charity and the Cavendish Centre

Sheffield's mistress cutler Dr Julie Edwards with The Star's editor Nancy Fielder, Beverly Nevill, the mistress cutler's assistant, and representatives from the Children's Hospital Charity and the Cavendish Centre

"I would like to ask you to get on board and register for the £50 challenge," she said.

"We invite you to take £50 of our money and make as much as you can of that £50 in order to try and help us raise over £200,000 for these two good causes."

The challenge is open to businesses, groups or individuals, who can register now to take part.

Contestants will receive their £50 at a launch event on March 9, along with a teddy bear to remind them of the children their efforts will be supporting. They will then have six months to generate as much money as possible from that starting pot.

An It's a Knockout-style contest organised by Grant Thornton was among the fundraising activities during last year's Master Cutler's Challenge (photo by Paul Houghton)

An It's a Knockout-style contest organised by Grant Thornton was among the fundraising activities during last year's Master Cutler's Challenge (photo by Paul Houghton)

There are no limitations as to what they can do, provided they stay within the bounds of the law.

Events in previous years have ranged from charity quizzes and casino nights to human Monopoly games in which contestants can be seen wandering round the city wearing bowler hats or carrying irons.

This is the 10th year the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire has run its annual £50 challenge but only the second time it has been headed up by the mistress rather than master cutler.

This year's charities both have a very personal connection for Julie, whose husband Richard ran one of the city's oldest tool manufacturing firms G & J Hall until it joined the OSL Group in 2015.

A monopoly contest is launched by master cutler Craig McKay and Rob McKie, of DLA Piper, during last year's Master Cutler's Challenge (photo by Mark Harvey, iD8 Photography)

A monopoly contest is launched by master cutler Craig McKay and Rob McKie, of DLA Piper, during last year's Master Cutler's Challenge (photo by Mark Harvey, iD8 Photography)

She is an ultrasound manager at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, and Richard's father Noel, who ran the family businesses which also included steel manufacturers Barworth Flockton and Moss and Gamble, died recently of cancer.

"We chose to support Cavendish Cancer Care because the master cutler wanted to do something for cancer care in the city after his father's death," said Julie.

"I wanted to do something for the babies of Sheffield because as we move on we're delivering ever smaller babies and they require smaller instruments and better incubators.

"The family businesses have always had their roots in Sheffield, and this is about giving back to a city which has given our family a very good lifestyle."

More than £1 million has been raised for various charities since the challenge was launched in 2008. Last year, 140 teams signed up and between them raised almost £210,000.

Although the fundraising extravaganza is more about helping charities than competing, there is a trophy for the team which accumulates the most money.

Then mistress cutler Karen McKay with friends and family who joined her in a skydive which raised more than 4,000 for the 2016 Master Cutlers Challenge

Then mistress cutler Karen McKay with friends and family who joined her in a skydive which raised more than 4,000 for the 2016 Master Cutlers Challenge

This year's contenders have a big task on their hands if they hope to surpass the £28,000 raised by reigning champions AESSEAL in 2016, through events including a Stride of Sheffield charity walk.

The Children's Hospital Charity will receive half the proceeds from the fundraising extravaganza, with 30 per cent going to Cavendish Cancer Care and the remainder to the Cutler's Company Charitable Trust.

Clare Collingworth, corporate fundraiser for The Children's Hospital Charity, said: "It's an honour and privilege to be asked to be one of this year's beneficiaries.

"The money raised will help give the hospital's tiniest patients the best chance of a full and healthy life, and the challenge is also a great way for us to reach out to lots of businesses across the city."

Ross Hall, business development manager at Cavendish Cancer Care, said: "As well as raising vital revenue, we hope this will help us reach out to many more people who need our support.

"One of our biggest challenges is that we have very little contact with people living in the most deprived areas in the city, which have the highest incidence of cancer fatality."

To register to take part in the Mistress Cutler's Challenge, visit www.mistresscutlerschallenge.co.uk.

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