A Highland campaigner has pledged his support behind a year-long fundraising appeal as a thank you to the Highland Hospice in helping change his life for the better.
Barry MacDowell from Inverness was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2015 and became a regular service user of the charity.
He became the first patient to access the Hospice’s new rehab service in 2019, following a referral from his physiotherapist.
Due the deterioration and progression of his condition, the 46-year-old has been left wheelchair bound.
He explained how the Inverness-based charity has help turn his life around.
He said: “My time spent there helped me hugely, and I still do my best to keep on top of Ravi the physiotherapist’s regime, although I’m not so keen on his insistence that I wash the dishes as part of it.
“The Hospice has helped me begin a new chapter in my life and they continue to support me, keeping me focussed so I can keep my independence. I’m so grateful for all the hard work and input I’ve received from their whole care team.
“Not only did the wonderful staff all help me physically, they also helped me with my mental health, enabling me to come to terms with and accept my ongoing progression.”
Mr MacDowell is now one of several fundraisers backing the charity’s year-long fundraising campaign “Step out” relaying the message, “I can’t step out to help Highland Hospice. Can you?”
The charity is focusing on people’s ability to get out and run, walk or jog to help the Hospice keep providing its care and services, following restrictions on indoor activities.
The launch of the campaign follows a tough year for the charity.
Officials estimated losses exceeding £1million at the height of the pandemic as a result of restrictions on fundraising and the closure of their local charity shops.
The charity received an £792,000 grant from the Scottish Government, which officials say was a real “get out of jail free” card.
Chief Executive Kenny Steele said: “Without that the hospice would have made very significant financial losses through the year.
“Thanks to the Scottish Government grant that kept our heads above water. We haven’t had to worry about any cutting of care costs or scrimp at all in that way.”
Fundraisers are being encouraged to sign up for four main challenges, including the Inverness Half Marathon and 5K on May 16, Route to Remember on June 26, Great Wilderness Challenge on August 14 and Baxters Festival of Running on October 3.
If these events are cancelled, people can run or walk the same distance on the same day and record their activity electronically.
Fundraiser Katie Gibb added: “With the restrictions currently in place on all of our lives, 2021 could really be your year to make a difference – not only by setting yourself a fitness goal but also helping your local Hospice and the vital service it provides.
“Your eyes could be opened not only to your own ability, but your training and event participation could lead you to beautiful places you have never seen before.”
Mr MacDowell is hoping fundraisers will pick up the gantlet on his behalf in support of the patients, such as himself, who rely on the hospice’s care.
He added: “If I could tie up my yellow laces and do a sponsored run to help Highland Hospice, I wouldn’t hesitate. So if you can do it to support me and the many others who receive their care, I really would be grateful. Thank you.”