Two decades of support for Leuchie

Margaret Ann Crawford lives in North Berwick with her husband, Lyle, and has supported Leuchie in many ways for more than two decades: first as a nurse, then volunteer and as a donor. At Leuchie, we know how fortunate we are to have a community of loyal supporters just like Margaret Ann, who shares her story with us below.

Living in North Berwick, I have been aware of the difference Leuchie has made to people’s lives for many years, indeed since it was the Richard Cave MS Holiday home, managed by the Servite Sisters. I joined their team in 1998 as a registered nurse, working alongside the nuns. Like now, activities were arranged for the guests: which included a shopping trip to Cameron Toll, and volunteers took guests out for a run in their car, often providing a picnic.

When the nuns withdrew from Leuchie, the MS Society took on the management, and hired a Matron. I was appointed her deputy and became nurse manager, responsible for nursing schedules and the guests’ nursing care. Guests came from all over Scotland, parts of England, and even overseas where they could stay and visit family nearby. In 2002, Holmhill MS holiday home in Grantown on Spey closed and Leuchie became the only place of its kind in Scotland, as it remains today.

Over the years, guests visited regularly and became part of the Leuchie Family, building strong relationships with fellow guests and carers. Some would arrange to return for holidays at the same time. It was a special period for me - welcoming them back each holiday was akin to having the family to stay and we enjoyed many happy reunions.

Margaret and Lyle.

Sadly, year after year, we would witness guests’ conditions deteriorate and more help was needed. Staffing levels had to increase, aids were added for moving and handling, hoists were needed for transfers and some guests required assistance at mealtimes. There was more access to Physiotherapy to aid mobility and wheelchair assessments were carried out to ensure suitability for the user. One of the highlights of the holidays back then (and still now!) were the freshly prepared, delicious meals enjoyed in the company of other guests.

When I retired from Leuchie in 2003, I took on the role of facilitator of the MS support group which met monthly at Leuchie. I organised speakers, outings, and an annual BBQ in my garden. I also liaised with members who needed extra support. This was taken over by Leuchie staff in 2016.

I wanted to keep helping at Leuchie, so joined as a volunteer assisting guests with their evening meal. It was so wonderful to be back, enjoying one-to-one conversation with guests I had not seen in many years - some since my first days of working at Leuchie!

Leuchie is special and unique, and I have seen it grow and improve over many years. They keep finding innovative ways to enable the guests to do and experience more, like the introduction of enabling technologies, assessments and more. I have seen firsthand how transformative a break at Leuchie can be – for guests and for their carers.

The experience Leuchie provides does not come cheap, but it is essential, and that is why I choose to support Leuchie with a regular donation, because I know that together our gifts offer a lifeline to families when they need it most.