A former police officer had one last unfinished case to crack for her late husband and went above and beyond the call of duty in his memory.
Elaine Morrison served in Central Scotland Police, as the force in this part of the country was known back in the day, for over 30 years before retiring in 2006.
Her husband of 39 years George, also a long-serving police officer, sadly lost his battle against cancer in May last year and was never able to fulfil his dream of flying to Barra, in the Outer Hebrides, and landing on the picturesque beach there.
Elaine (61) decided to make the emotional trip for the two of them earlier this month and then went one better to take on a challenge that paid tribute to her husband and also raised a ton of cash for a good cause at the same time.
Elaine said: “George and I met when we were in the police. We both started serving in Falkirk and then moved through all the stations – Stirling, Dunblane and I ended up in Denny where I spent my last years on the force.
“He died just before we were due to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. He had cancer before and had gone through treatment, but it returned last year. We had the Barra trip booked for my 60th birthday but George was getting treatment at that point and we couldn’t go.”
Although gravely ill, George then flew over to the USA with Elaine so they could see their grandchildren.
She said: “He wanted to see the boys and after he saw them he became quite ill and died a few days later. We took his ashes back home from Colorado.”
Almost exactly a year after George’s death, Elaine made her husband’s dream trip to Barra, but not just to land on the beach – she also wanted to pay back MacMillan Cancer Support for all the help they had given George in his final days.
She said: “MacMillan were really good to George and supportive of us when he was undergoing years of treatments. They showed me how to help give him his treatments and that allowed us to go on our last holiday.
“They are a great organisation.”
The former police sergeant, who lives in Denny, committed to a week-long, 200-mile cycle across the Outer Hebrides along with another ex-police officer Stuart Ballantyne, who was riding to raise funds for Trossachs Search and Rescue.
“I’m not a cyclist,” laughed Elaine. “I only got the bike at Christmas. I do enjoy riding it now though.”
She began a training regime, coinciding with a holiday to Portugal and Fuerteventura, which included some off road and hill work as well as some easy local runs and allowed her to approach the Outer Hebrides challenge with added confidence last week.
She said: “I set off from Glasgow Airport and landed on the beach at Barra where I was met by Stuart and his wife Joanne, who was driving the back-up vehicle for the trip.” Things got off to a poignant start as Elaine accomplished George’s dream when she touched down on the beach at Barra.
“It was amazing – I’ve only ever seen it in pictures before. It was stunning. I thought about George then at the start of the cycle and at the end, but I tried not to think about him during it or I would get emotional.”
Starting at Vatersay island to the south on May 8 and ending at The Butt of Lewis to the north on Monday, the route took them through Braelea, Langlass, Harris, Lewis and finally Stornoway.
Stopping off at a number of local inns every evening, Elaine and Stuart spent the daylight hours pedalling – covering 20 miles on day one, 25 miles on day two, 36 miles on day three, a whopping 45 miles on day four, 22 miles on day five, 17 miles on day six and 29 miles on day seven.
Elaine and Stuart’s cycle adventure went off without a hitch – almost as if George had a quiet word with the man upstairs to ensure his wife and a fellow bobby had only the best of conditions for the length of the cycle.
Elaine said: “We covered about 200 miles in the space of the week. We never had a single puncture and everything went according to plan. Some of it was really hilly, but the weather was absolutely fantastic – no rain or wind to speak of.
“Then the minute we finished the ride the heavens opened up and it rained heavily. It was an amazing journey through varied landscapes and we met some lovely people along the way.”
Through kind donations to her Just Giving page, Elaine helped to raise over £3400 for MacMillan.
“It was a one off I think. It was hard work. I will help with fundraising for MacMillan again in the future but I probably won’t be doing something like this again.
“The messages of support from friends were great. I posted pictures in the morning and gave them updates at night. We had donations from America from my son’s friends. I thanked people on Facebook for their kind donations and thank all the anonymous people who also gave money to the cause.”
The force is certainly strong in the Morrison family as son Stuart (36) is a serving state trooper in Colorado, while daughter Louise (38) looks after customers’ money working in a bank in Grangemouth.
Elaine has five grandchildren and will be heading over to the USA to see two of them later this month.
Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Elaine-Morrison4 for more information on Elaine’s amazing challenge.