Strathcarron Hospice: Nurse surprises veteran with coveted commando green beret

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An old soldier was reunited with his precious green beret awarded to commandos after it had been missing for years.

Richard Donaldson left his home in Bo’ness to join the Royal Marines when he was only 18 years old and served for five years.

He travelled the world during his service, including time spent in Malta, Egypt and Cyprus.

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Richard went on to become one of the Royal Marines who completed the commando course and was awarded the covered green beret.

Richard Donaldson, 89, from Bo'ness with a replacement Green Beret sourced by a Strathcarron nurseRichard Donaldson, 89, from Bo'ness with a replacement Green Beret sourced by a Strathcarron nurse
Richard Donaldson, 89, from Bo'ness with a replacement Green Beret sourced by a Strathcarron nurse

However, over the years the beret became misplaced when Richard moved house.

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He recalled the story of his pride at being awarded the beret during a recent visit from Lynn Hamilton, one of Strathcarron Hospice’s clinical nurse specialists (CNS).

Lynn and her colleagues work across our communities, providing expert symptom control advice, practical and emotional support for patients and their families in the comfort of their home.

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The team are experienced in listening to how people feel and identifying their wishes. They work closely with each patient’s GP, community nurse, as well as specialist services at Strathcarron, to make sure care is as seamless as possible.

Richard told her: “I had to work hard to get my green beret and to finish the commando course. One thing I had to do was walk 30 miles to Dartmoor within eight hours. If you didn’t do it in the time frame, you had start again.

"I was a proud man the day I got my green beret and title of First Class Royal Marine Commando.

"After my service, I was offered a job with the Metropolitan Police in London, but declined the offer and returned home to Bo’ness. Over the years I’ve moved around a lot, which unfortunately is the reason I lost my beloved green beret.”

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He was stunned when Lynn turned up at his home with a new green beret, along with a Royal Marine flag and dress scarf.

Richard added: “I was so chuffed - it was the right size and everything.

"I really appreciate Lynn for doing that for me. She and everyone at Strathcarron Hospice go above and beyond for you, they really do.”

Lynn, who was helped in replacing the coveted green beret by husband Robert Hamilton, said: “‘Richard’s reaction when I presented him with the green beret was just the best.

"He then put it on his head and saluted me.

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"He then kept taking it on and off and staring at it. I did have a wee tear in my eye, he was so happy.

"Being a Strathcarron CNS is such a privilege. The work we do makes a real difference to people’s lives. You can’t put a price on how that makes you feel”.

Strathcarron Hospice has been providing care for over four decades to communities across Forth Valley, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth.

The care is not just for inpatients but also through day care and at home for people like Richard.

They need to raise over £14,632 every day to keep its vital services running. For more details visit the website