Farewell from Mairi

Well, the time has come.

As you may be aware by now my departure from Leuchie House has been announced so it is with mixed emotions that I write this column.

It has been a pleasure to write in this paper every fortnight for the past three years. (Though I do remember my initial terror at being responsible for a column, followed by the gradual realisation that people do actually read it!)  It has given me a unique opportunity to tell you about the real challenges that the people who come to Leuchie have to cope with, the plight of carers, the reality of health and social care throughout Scotland, and sometimes a bit of what was going on in my own life.

It has been a privilege to work with The East Lothian Courier throughout my time at Leuchie. They have become an extension of the Leuchie family, supporting us consistently and valiantly over the last eight years – through the threat of closure, the Save Leuchie campaign, the transition and set up of the new independent charity, as well as supporting all our events and celebrations.

What a journey we’ve had!  It has been an emotional rollercoaster, financially and operationally, to move from supporting one condition – MS - to 35 different conditions last year. We’ve had many challenges, including a national shortage of nurses, becoming one of the largest employers in East Lothian, providing 6,400 respite days in 2017, and raising £1m a year. 

Through it all I have had some incredible experiences. I’ve been to clay pigeon shoots, farm sales, garden teas, creeling around the Bass, fundraising music festivals and dance competitions, our Ascot day, Holyrood Palace, the Scottish Parliament, Westminster and Buckingham Palace.

I have also met amazing people and made great friends.  So many people have bought into the Leuchie vision and supported us in fantastic ways. Especially the people of East Lothian without whom, I have no doubt, Leuchie House would not have survived.

I still have another couple of columns to write before I leave so it’s not goodbye yet, but rather, here’s to the next time!

Mairi O'Keefe, CEO, Leuchie House. Published in the East Lothian Courier, 27 September 2018.