On behalf of the Scottish Government, I also welcome this year’s great daffodil appeal and thank Madame Daffodil—Linda Fabiani—for bringing the motion to the chamber. It has been a lovely debate and it is a privilege for me to listen and respond to it.
The Marie Curie great daffodil appeal has been running successfully since 1986, which is an achievement of which Marie Curie and its staff and volunteers should be extremely proud. I also thank those across Scotland whose generous donations, fundraising and all the other things that they do have helped to make the Marie Curie great daffodil appeal such a great success for many years.
As Emma Harper said, we all wear our daffodils with great pride. When I see everyone wearing their daffodils, I always think that we are nearly into spring, and the nights are fair drawin oot rather than in. It feels as though there is a bit of renewal going on.
His name is Stewart, David Stewart—a wee James Bond joke there—and he reminded us that the great daffodil appeal started in Scotland. As many members know, I have long supported the great daffodil appeal and the work of Marie Curie in my own constituency, and it is a privilege for me to voice my support for the campaign this year in this setting.
I also want to give a shout out to Shona Robison, although she is not in the chamber. She was out in Dundee with her collecting can the other day, and I remind Ruth Maguire that Shona wore the big hat. I wore the big hat last year, and I think that we should sponsor Ruth Maguire to wear it.
My family has also been greatly supported by Marie Curie, its staff and volunteers at the Stobhill hospice. That was a time of great sadness for my family, but having that support was incredibly important.
In the short time that I have available, it would be impossible for me to cover all the services and support that Marie Curie provides. I will simply say that the contribution of Marie Curie to the wellbeing of those who are near the end of their life, their families and everyone around them is invaluable. Anyone who has been through that process will value that contribution.
Many colleagues across the chamber have reflected on how much Marie Curie services mean to them personally and to their constituents. That highlights the broad scope and reach of Marie Curie’s work and why it is so important that we take the time, today, in our chamber, and for the month of March, to wear our daffodils and do what we do to voice our support.
The incredible work done by Marie Curie to provide expert care and support to those who are in the last months or weeks of their life, as well as to their families and carers, is more important than ever. David Stewart talked about people in the Highlands and Islands saying that they felt that the staff were like family, and I am sure that that will resonate with many who have had Marie Curie’s care and support.
The Marie Curie great daffodil appeal therefore presents a timely opportunity for us to reflect on the challenges that we face and to consider what else we can do to address them. Scotland is already a world leader in the field of palliative and end-of-life care, and I am proud of the great improvements that we have made in palliative care over the past few years.
Rona Mackay and Emma Harper told us that staying at home, or coming home to die surrounded by one’s family, cannot or does not happen for many people. Edward Mountain eloquently reminded us of the need that we all have to say goodbye in dignified way by sharing his personal experience, and we are grateful to him for that. Ruth Maguire also reminded us that 25 per cent of people do not get such care and support at the end of their lives. We will strive to make sure that such care and support are given.
We have had improvements, but they are possible only through the hard work of all health and social care professionals. I put on my record my thanks to them for all their hard work—particularly, as others have said, in the difficult times that we face right now.
To know that a loved one is being looked after with care and compassion at a difficult time in life is a real comfort. Rona Mackay, Bill Kidd, Edward Mountain and Linda Fabiani, as well as many other members, paid tribute to the volunteers, and rightly so—we need to support them because they are absolutely second to none in everything that they do.
I think that we could raise a bit of money by sponsoring Linda Fabiani to hike, run, cycle and swim. Let us see how much money we can make from her doing that. She is my pal; she is sitting right behind me.