Long-Serving Volunteer Jessie Honoured by Van Naming

3 June 2024

Long-Serving Volunteer Jessie Honoured by Van Naming image

Our wonderful Harbour Road shop volunteer Jessie Harrison has shown incredible loyalty to Highland Hospice, having supported us for 39 years, before we were even delivering care.

It was then only fitting that we decided on the name ‘Jessie’ for our new retail van, due to arrive later this month.

‘Jessie’ brings our van fleet up to three, alongside ‘Flora’ and ‘Cecilia’ – named after the Hospice founders Flora Mackay and the late Cecilia Bottomley.

Jessie said, “It was a lovely surprise when the Hospice’s Head of Income and Development, Andrew Leaver, came into the shop to ask my permission to name a van after me! I was shocked and also a little bit embarrassed, but it is so nice for my years of service to be appreciated and recognised.”

“I’m also helping at the Hospice’s Volunteer Awards Ceremony on Thursday 6 June, handing out awards to our young volunteers which is lovely.”

Jessie, who has recently turned 80, recalls her first days as a Hospice volunteer, back in the 1980s where she was part of the fundraising committee who were campaigning to have a hospice in the Highlands. She attended a ‘Public Intentions’ meeting in Eden Court, and would travel the Highlands on on roadshows with Flora and Dr Sam Marshall.

She explains, “It was very different in those days. Fundraising and volunteering weren’t familiar concepts, the only group up here who were doing it was The Samaritans, and there was a lot of suspicion.”

“People would comment that we already had a hospital, so why did we need a hospice. However, we persevered with leaflet drops, raffles in the supermarkets, bring and buy sales and coffee mornings – and before long we started to win people over.”

Once Highland Hospice was up and running, Jessie, a trained nurse, would volunteer her care in Netley Lodge. She was a patient transport driver for a long time, and would continue fundraising through craft sales, as well as taking on the 13 mile Great Wilderness Challenge route for many years.

Once we started running Highland Hospice shops, Jessie became involved and has remained on board as a retail volunteer ever since.

She recalls, “We started off with a drop-in pop up shop on Union Street, in the premises of the then gents store Fred Kelly. We then moved to the Filling Station building on Academy Street. In those days it was occupied by Martin & Frost Furnishings, and Mrs Frost was a Hospice volunteer who kindly let us use the premises. Following this, we had a base in Church Street alongside what is currently known as Mieles Ice Cream – before finding our home in Queensgate where we would operate for the next 25 years.”

Following her retirement, Jessie would volunteer in Queensgate for three mornings each week. She now does a weekly shift in our Harbour Road shop, having previously helped out in Falcon Square.

Jessie commented, “Volunteering for the Hospice is something I would recommend to anyone. It gives you routine, you get to socialise and make friends with your colleagues, and get to know the public. It’s a great environment and such a good cause.”

“If anyone is thinking about becoming a Highland Hospice volunteer, I honestly wouldn’t hesitate. It has given me so much over the years, and is a big part of my life.”

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