Jackie Baillie, the shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing and MSP for Dumbarton, has visited Leuchie House in East Lothian for the first time since she was involved in the Save Leuchie campaign over two years ago and met some of the people who are benefiting from the new charity.
She was accompanied by the East Lothian MSP Iain Gray, who was also heavily involved in the campaign to keep Leuchie open after the MS Society – which previously ran Leuchie as a respite centre for people with Multiple Sclerosis – decided to withdraw funding after a review in 2010.
A last-ditch bid to save Leuchie House was mounted and the campaign grew momentum with backing from across Scotland, culminating in an all-party debate and a 12,000-signature petition being handed in to the Scottish Parliament.
Just four days before it was due to close, Leuchie House was given extra time to set up as an independent charity which launched in July 2011, offering respite breaks for people with a variety of long-term physical conditions and their carers. Since then, over 700 respite breaks have been taken and up to 20% of the guests have conditions other than MS.
The MSPs were joined by the head of East Lothian Council, Councillor Willie Innes, for their visit to Leuchie, where they met many guests who are enjoying a two-week break at the house and who were able to tell the politicians the great difference their breaks at Leuchie have made to their lives.
Housed in an 18th Century classical mansion house in the East Lothian countryside, Leuchie House offers high-quality respite breaks to people living with MS, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, Motor Neurone Disease and the effects of stroke and spinal injuries. Guests enjoy trips, activities and entertainment and are also offered physiotherapy and other therapies while they are at Leuchie, as well as the reassurance of 24-hour expert nursing care. There is also accommodation for carers if they wish to accompany guests.
Mairi O’Keefe, the CEO of Leuchie House, said after the MSPs’ visit: “It was a great opportunity for our supporters who had been so involved in the campaign to save Leuchie to come back and see the difference it is making in the lives of people who desperately need a break. It was a good chance to show the politicians that all their hard work has paid off in terms of supporting Leuchie House over a very rough couple of years. We still have an uphill battle to continue funding Leuchie, but the feedback and return visits of guests make all the effort worthwhile.”
Iain Gray MSP said: “Jackie Baillie was a strong supporter of the successful campaign to save Leuchie House and I was pleased to accompany her on this visit. It’s always been a pleasure to visit Leuchie to meet the guests and hear about the huge difference that breaks there make to their lives and those of their loved ones.
“What has been achieved over the last couple of years by Mairi, her team of staff and volunteers, and everyone else involved with Leuchie is quite remarkable, and I wish them every success going forward.”
Find out more
Leuchie House is an independent charity providing high quality respite breaks for individuals and their families affected by long-term degenerative conditions with complex care needs. Find out more at www.leuchiehouse.org.uk