Princess Royal helps Strathcarron Hospice celebrate 40th anniversary
The Princess Royal visited Strathcarron Hospice today to meet staff and patients, as well as cutting a cake to mark the 40th anniversary of the Fankerton facility’s opening.
Her Royal Highness has supported the hospice for decades and her visits – this was her 36th – are always a popular date in the calendar for all those involved.
The last was three years ago with work to the hospice building in 2019 and then the covid pandemic last year putting paid to any planned tours by the royal.
The Princess Royal has long had the title of official visitor to mark her long association with Strathcarron.
Today’s visit was much more low-key than usual due to the covid restrictions.
There was no pipe band, volunteers, fundraisers or cheering schoolchildren filling the hospice grounds.
Instead, HRH focused on meeting staff and discussing how their work had changed due to the pandemic.
On arrival, the Princess Royal was greeted by HM’s Lord Lieutenant of Stirling and Falkirk Alan Simpson and Irene McKie, Strathcarron chief executive.
She was then presented with a posy of flowers by Laura Neill, 34, of Dennyloanhead, who is a creative arts facilitator in the daycare unit.
The yellow flowers were in recognition of all the schoolchildren taking part in Go Yellow today to raise funds for the hospice.
HRH, who was wearing a navy and turquoise dress and turquoise jacket with navy accessories, was then introduced to a number of staff members, including director of nursing Marjory Mackay, director of operations Billy Andrew and daycare sister Mandy Malcolmson, as well as members of the council of management.
Highlighting how the care Strathcarron provides never stops, an ambulance arrived moments before the royal visitor and a patient was admitted.
After chatting with staff for almost 45 minutes, the Princess Royal then went into the hospice with Miss McKie to privately meet with more staff and patients.
After cutting the cake and signing the visitors’ book, the Princess Royal came out to be presented with a gift of shortbread by catering supervisor Nan Smith and a scarf in the Strathcarron tartan, specially commissioned for the 40th anniversary.
FIona Hannah, deputy area retail manager, explained how it was designed by Claire Hunter of Alloa’s Taffled Threads.
She said: “The green and cream are from the snowdrops which are the hospice’s logo; blue which is the colour of the hospice logo; grey for sadness and grief; and dark red to represent the love and care provided.”
HRH then met several new members of staff who have joined the team since her last visit, including the newest member, consultant Dr Anna Sutherland, who only started on this week.
She then left with a wave to all those assembled in the grounds and walked to her waiting transport – a helicopter which had landed in a field adjacent to the hospice where more staff were gathered to say goodbye.
Miss McKie said: “We are always delighted when the Princess Royal visits and it is wonderful to see the interest that she takes in all that we do.
"Sadly, many of the events and activities that we would have hoped to hold to mark the 40th anniversary have not been able to go ahead.
"However, this visit gave everyone a chance to celebrate.”