I congratulate Linda Fabiani on securing the debate and thank her for her very thoughtful speech. I am glad to have the opportunity to speak in the debate, because on Friday evening I attended a Marie Curie fundraiser at the Farr estate near Inverness. It was a James Bond themed evening that made thousands of pounds for the charity. I was shaken but not stirred by the event. [
.] Members could perhaps say that I am the man with the golden pun. [
.] I will make no more jokes, Presiding Officer.
On a serious note, I congratulate Marie Curie on all the sterling work that its nurses and volunteers do, not just in my region of the Highlands and Islands but across Scotland and the UK. I welcome all the volunteers who are in the gallery this evening.
The daffodil appeal began here in Scotland in 1986, and it soon evolved into the widely known fundraising tradition that we are commemorating today. It is important that we appreciate Marie Curie’s success in caring for the estimated 7,600 people in Scotland with a terminal illness and that, as we look to the future, we support the organisation’s fundraising endeavours.
What began in 1948 as a small foundation whose first big donation was a diamond engagement ring became Marie Curie, which is a massive and truly positive force for good when it comes to healthcare and medical research. As we heard from Edward Mountain, in the Highlands and Islands, Marie Curie has been a fierce advocate for the right to die at home—a cause that I have enthusiastically endorsed—and it has been able to provide effective end-of-life care to cancer patients and those with other terminal illnesses.
In 2015, Marie Curie’s 33 Highland nurses provided nearly 20,000 hours of care free of charge to 379 patients. In 2018-19, my region was fortunate enough to have 222 Marie Curie volunteers and 38 Highland nurses, who continued to provide exceptional healthcare services. According to the recent Marie Curie briefing, it has supported at least 89 per cent of patients in Highland, Grampian, Orkney and the Western Isles in dying in the place of their choice.
There are many fundraising groups across the region that are enthusiastic supporters of the organisation and the great daffodil appeal. Mother-and-daughter duo Kate and Olivia Howatson-Kerr walked all the way along the north coast 500 route to raise money for medical charities including Marie Curie, and their 29-day fundraising journey raised over £9,000.
Currently, Marie Curie supporters in Inverness are actively recruiting more volunteers to help with fundraising for the great daffodil appeal. One of the Inverness volunteers, Margaret Henderson, describing her experiences working on the campaign, said:
“I’ve met so many kind and interesting people along the way, many of whom have directly benefited from the care provided by Marie Curie nurses in their own homes.”
The Inverness fundraising group, which raised over £39,000 for charity last year, has already raised £26,000 this year, and it is organising multiple events for the great daffodil appeal.
However, what speaks to Marie Curie’s success and its reputation for kindness the most is perhaps the support that it provides to families, as well as to those who are reaching their final days. Recently, Brian Hanslip shared his experiences of a Marie Curie hospice and how the nurses took care of his daughter Charlotte in her final days. He said:
“The staff were like family to us. Every time you stepped through that door there were smiles and hugs”.
The success of the fundraiser is extremely important in aiding Marie Curie in its mission to support everyone who wishes to die at home, surrounded by their community of family and friends.
I will conclude, Presiding Officer, as you are giving me that look again. [
“We see the future not as something out of our control, but as something we can shape for the better through concerted and collective effort.”
I applaud Marie Curie for the incredible work that it does and wish it luck and support for the great daffodil appeal 2020.