An inspirational Highland woman will receive a Queen’s honour on Monday for her tireless work to help youngsters with complex needs.
Elsie Normington will be presented with the British Empire Medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Inverness, Donald Cameron of Locheil, at a ceremony at the Inverness Town House.
The North Kessock resident, who founded the Elsie Normington Foundation which aims to build a dedicated multi-purposed facility for children and young people with multiple complex learning needs, said she was humbled by the honour.
A former piano teacher who has also established two local choirs, Elsie is now a community development officer based at Merkinch Community Centre.
Her foundation wants to raise more than £3million to build the Haven Centre at Murray Road, Smithton.
The new facility – the first of its kind in Scotland – would be on the site of the former Culloden Court Nursing Home which was destroyed by fire in October 2010.
A total of £400,000 has already been raised towards the Haven Project Appeal’s target of £3.2million.
The centre would provide jobs for 19 full-time and 11 part-time staff as well as generate opportunities for volunteering.
Mrs Normington said: “I am truly honoured and humbled to be receiving this award. It is a validation of all the hard work, lobbying and continuous commitment to see people who are marginalised, being recognised and served with appropriate services and facilities.”
Alistair Dodds, a director of the foundation, added: “This is very deserving recognition of the inspirational work that Elsie does in the community. She brings huge pleasure to the many people who sing in her choirs and is a real driving force in aiming to deliver the ambitious Haven Centre project, which promises to bring so many benefits for children and young people with multiple complex learning needs.”
Elsie’s life changed when her son, Andrew, now 32, was diagnosed with a complex learning disability. When he moved into supported accommodation of his own she wrote a book, ‘The Silent Doorbell’, to give help and support to others by sharing her experiences of coping with his condition.
It is a busy time for Mrs Normington as her choirs, Singing for Pleasure and the Rainbow Singers, took centre stage at the foundation’s latest fundraiser, the Big Spring Sing, which was held at the Smithton/Culloden Free Church last night.
The event also featured the Smithton Primary School, Drummond School Players and guest soloist Julie Keane.