Huge £30,000 donation to Bethesda

Celebrating �55,000: Standing from left, Bethesda finance manager DR Macdonald, PST general manager Donald John MacSween, Bethesda general manager Carol Somerville and PST chairman Angus McCormack.
Celebrating �55,000: Standing from left, Bethesda finance manager DR Macdonald, PST general manager Donald John MacSween, Bethesda general manager Carol Somerville and PST chairman Angus McCormack.

Point and Sandwick Trust, the charity behind the award-winning Beinn Ghrideag community wind farm, have given a further £30,000 to Bethesda — fulfilling their pledge to give £55,000 to the Care Home and Hospice in Stornoway every year.

The first part of the donation was given last November and Point and Sandwick Trust were delighted to come through with the second tranche last week.

Bethesda is going to get £55,000 from Point and Sandwick Trust every year for 25 years, for as long as the turbines at Beinn Ghrideag turn and making money.

The financial support was pledged to Bethesda by Point and Sandwick Trust (PST) around 10 years ago, when the wind farm was still being dreamed up.

It is around a fifth of what Bethesda must fundraise themselves every year — and means they will no longer begin their financial years with a blank sheet.

For Finance Officer and Fundraiser DR Macdonald, who retires from Bethesda at the end of October, it was “just amazing” to receive this money.

He said: The further donation from them is a great encouragement to us in the ongoing work of caring for people from all over the island who benefit from the facilities that we have here, both in the hospice and the care home.

“This annual donation takes a lot of pressure off the target of a quarter of a million that we have to raise each year. This means that at the beginning of the year, instead of starting off with a blank sheet, we’ve got something to build on in the course of the year.”

The £55,000 a year, committed to Bethesda for the lifetime of the turbines, “will be a huge support to the organisation going forward,” he said.

Asked how he felt about the money coming on stream as he approaches retirement, he said: “It’s great to go out on a high.

“There’s no good time to go because I’ve been here 18 and a half years and you just live and breathe the organisation. You go to bed with it at night and get up with it in the morning. It’s constantly on my mind. You’re constantly thinking and looking at new fundraising ideas.

“I would say that the organisation has done well over the past years but it’s not down to me; it’s down to the support that we’ve had from the community.

“It’s been a real privilege. A great challenge but also very rewarding.

“We’re constantly in people’s faces, fundraising, but we can never lose sight of the real purpose of us being here which is to care for patients and residents and also their families.”

At the moment Bethesda is at full capacity, with 21 permanent residents, nine in respite care and four in the hospice. It employs 90 members of staff.

“We’re paying £1.3million in salaries which is in turn a boost to the economy,” said DR. “The turnover of the organisation is now £2million a year. We’re possibly one of the biggest private businesses in the Western Isles with that number of staff.”

He spoke about all the challenges which Point and Sandwick had “done well to overcome” in developing Beinn Ghrideag, adding: “It’s a great encouragement to us to see it (the windfarm) coming to fruition and the money starting to flow – not only for ourselves but many other charities and people in the community who have benefited as a result of what they’re doing.”

During their official visit to Bethesda on Friday to hand over the money, the representatives from Point and Sandwick Trust — including general manager Donald John MacSween, chairman Angus McCormack and wind farm developer Calum Macdonald — took the opportunity to catch up with Rudhach Mary Macdonald, originally from Flesherin, who was in for a little respite care.

Mrs Macdonald was full of praise for the way Bethesda staff had been looking after her during her wee holiday.

“They are marvellous,” she said. “They’re all so patient with the likes of me. From the day I came in the door, a week last Wednesday, it’s been wonderful.”

She added: “My daughter died here over a year ago and they were so good to her, it couldn’t be described. They are priceless. You couldn’t put a price on them.”

She then told DR: “You’re not far behind, according to everyone who comes in.”

For what you can put a price on at Bethesda, Point and Sandwick Trust were delighted to help.

Chairman Angus McCormack said: “It was a great pleasure to visit Bethesda to hand over the second tranche of funding to take our annual support up to £55,000.

“In our early consultations, the community clearly wished to support Bethesda and we are delighted to offer some financial security to them. This is a great community facility. It does a fine job and is very well run by Carol and her team.

“I wish DR a long and happy retirement. He has played such an important role from the outset. He will be greatly missed.”

Carol Somerville, Bethesda’s General Manager, said: “It means a lot to us, having the support of Point and Sandwick Trust. We are extremely grateful for their continued support — and that support comes to us in lots of different ways; it’s not just the money.

“All the people at Point and Sandwick Trust are local people, they’ve had relatives in Bethesda, we’ve had Angus McCormack in here, visiting with the Men’s Cancer Support Group… they know what it means to the community and that’s one of the reasons they support us. People know the care we give and we feel that’s reflected in the support we receive from the community.”

Carol, who joined Bethesda in 1992 as a secretary and worked her way up, said: “Bethesda has a special place in my heart and I don’t see myself working anywhere else. I hope I can always continue to work here. I feel the care people get in Bethesda is the best.”