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‘There was nobody like Lena’: Husband’s tribute to former Forres Highland Games chieftain Lena Scott

The retired nurse passed away just days after throwing a New Year Party for friends and family.

Much-loved Lena Scott, former chieftain of Forres Highland Games.
Much-loved Lena Scott, former chieftain of Forres Highland Games.

The husband of former Forres Highland Games chieftain, Leanchoil Hospital nurse and community stalwart Lena Scott has paid tribute to his “one in a million” wife.

Lena, who was involved in numerous community initiatives, passed away just days after throwing her annual New Year’s Day party, age 76.

The couple met when Mike was struck by lightning and Lena was his nurse.

Full of potential

Lena Mitchell was born on December 23 1947 at Station Road, Lhanbryde. The youngest of Bill and Caroline Mitchell’s five children, her father worked in quarries.

She attended St Andrew’s School, travelling the one-and-a-half miles to school – and back at lunch each day – by bike.

Fun-loving Lena Scott who was raised in Lhanbryde.

Before her schooling was completed she started working for Donald McIntosh on a Saturday morning. A chemist in Elgin, when she finished school she was taken on full-time.

Seeing potential in Lena, Donald, who was the chairman of Moray Health Board, encouraged her to take up nursing. After two years in the chemist store, Lena left to begin nursing training at Spynie, Bilbohall and Dr Gray’s hospitals.

Devoted to people

In March 1968, fully qualified, she took up a full-time post at Leanchoil Hospital where she worked until the hospital was evacuated in 2011.

The remainder of her working years were spent at Dr Gray’, Keith and Aberlour hospitals until her retirement in 2014.

During her time at Leanchoil, Lena also served as a volunteer ambulance escort nurse. For many years her care of people extended also to assisting Andrew Smith Funeral Director with preparing the deceased for their funerals.

Heartbreak to happiness

It was while working as a nurse that Lena met the love of her life, Michael Scott. Admitted to her hospital on June 23 1968, Michael – known as Mike – and his friends had been caught in a storm and struck by lightning.

Though 18-year-old Colin Dingwall was tragically killed in the Grant Park lightning strike, Mike escaped with a burnt foot and was treated for shock.

When Lena offered him a cup of tea he was smitten. But it would be repeat visits to see his other friends in the hospital that helped build his confidence to ask her out.

As it turned out, Mike had seen Lena some months earlier in the chip shop but didn’t speak to her.

Family first

This time, love blossomed for the pair, and they married in St Columba’s Church in November 1969.

Mr and Mrs Scott on their wedding day.

Their first home was the top-floor flat above Longview Hotel in Forres.  In 1972, having already moved to Fleurs Road, their son Michael was born and the family unit was complete.

Lena was a devoted mum to Michael, who had additional needs but had a huge capacity to see her local community flourish too.

Community spirit

In the 1990s she volunteered to help organise a gala celebration, marking the centenary of Leanchoil Hospital and was an integral part of fundraising efforts for the Moray Scanner Appeal, raising £15,000 over two years.

In recognition of her efforts Lena and Mike were invited to The Queen’s summer garden party at Holyrood Palace. It was an honour she treasured, especially as someone who took great pride in her appearance, relishing the opportunity to shop until the perfect outfit was found.

Throughout their entire married life Lena and Mike loved caravanning, especially favouring Witches Craig near Stirling, where they made lifelong friends.

Forres Highland Games

Being married to Mike, Lena had been exposed to Forres Highland Games since the start of their relationship. Mike, who has been secretary of the games for more than four decades, found in Lena a formidable games partner.

Helping organise catering, responding to social media, answering calls, and ensuring everything went smoothly, Lena was known and loved on the games circuit.

In 2014, her devotion was recognised and she was delighted to accept the role of Forres Highland Games Chieftain. Resplendent in her Scott tartan outfit, she thoroughly enjoyed her day.

Lena, right, during her days as Forres Highland Games chieftain.

Other memberships and associations included the Order of the Eastern Star (Culbin Chapter No 235) in Forres, but Lena’s true priorities were always Michael and Mike, family and friends.

Others before herself

With a catchphrase of “get organised early,” Lena always defied the constraints on her time to make sure she could help anyone who needed it.

Mike said: “She was the kindest, most thoughtful person. She loved fun and to the very last breath she put everyone above herself. We had no idea how poorly she was. Though I see now she knew.”

Every year the Scotts held a “legendary” New Year’s Day party – and last year was no different.

Lena, center, with Fred Davidson, chairman of Forres Highland Games left, and on the right is George Alexander.

“She had actually been ill towards the end of last year with a really tough infection. She kept pressing on and as usual, she threw a tremendous party.

“I later learned she took two of the lasses to one side. She said to them: ‘When I’m not here this is what you need to know…’

“She knew she was worse than what she let on.”

Nobody like Lena

Just 10 days after the shindig, on January 11, Lena passed away at home.

Mike later learned his wife had been battling sepsis.

Always meticulously dressed, Lena Scott.

“She didn’t have the heart to tell me how bad she was. But that’s a measure of how big-hearted she actually was,” said Mike. “We miss her dearly. There was nobody like her.”

Lena’s funeral took place on January 25.