Much loved Erskine volunteer Isobel Kirkwood today received the British Empire Medal for services to veterans in Scotland at The Erskine Home in Bishopton.
The medal was awarded in the New Year’s Honours list by Her Majesty The Queen for a sustained, local contribution to charity. Isobel was presented with the medal on behalf of Her Majesty, by the Lord-Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, Guy Clark.
Isobel, who lives in Newton Mearns, Glasgow, was insistent on being presented with the medal at The Erskine Home where her heart lies. She was surrounded by family, friends and Erskine staff including Erskine’s Chairman Andrew Robertson. East Renfrewshire’s Provost Alastair Carmichael was also present.
Isobel’s connection with the veterans’ charity began in 1995 when her husband Robert, a Spitfire Pilot, moved into Erskine Hospital which was then in Mar Hall. When Erskine started a fundraising campaign in the 90’s to build the current Erskine Home, it was then that Isobel felt she could do something to help. Subsequently, and for quarter of a century, 96-year-old Isobel has volunteered with Erskine.
Taking her duties very seriously, Isobel can still be found on a weekly basis in the fundraising office where she stuffs envelopes with vigour. As a retired Head Teacher she provides invaluable history lessons to children by going into Primary Schools to tell them about her life during WW2; teaching children during the Blitz in London; meeting her charming Scottish husband and why Erskine is such a special place where Robert lived for eight years. Isobel and her trusty King Charles Spaniel Rusty (and his predecessor the much-lamented Harry) are familiar faces to many, as they fundraise at Erskine events raising thousands of pounds over the years.
“Being awarded the British Empire Medal was a great and unexpected honour,” said Isobel. “My feelings for Erskine are difficult to put into words. The fundraisers always thank me for helping them but they have no idea how much they have helped me. I have had a long retirement, outlived my husband and many of my friends, and Erskine has provided me with a new and varied career, a reason to get out of bed in the morning and a chance to be with young company. I have so many toy boys at Erskine which Robert would be delighted about.”
“I am very grateful that I have been able to show my appreciation of the love shown to my husband and me by everyone at Erskine. Erskine’s slogan is ‘Proud to Care’. I personally would change this to ‘Proud to Love,’” said Isobel.
Erskine’s fundraising team said: “Isobel is an inspiration; a friend who is admired and very much valued by all of us – and she certainly keeps us on our toes! We are truly humbled by her dedication over the last three decades, raising vital funds and awareness for the benefit of our veterans, always with the help of her four legged friend.
“Her commitment to our veterans is unsurpassed and there is never a job too big or small – Isobel will always find a way to get it done! We are all very proud of Isobel’s formal acknowledgement of her tireless efforts in volunteering.”
Such is the respect and appreciation for Isobel from everyone at Erskine, she has a chapter dedicated to her personal story in Erskine’s centenary book – A Century of Care – Erskine 1916 – 2016. Books can be purchased via the Erskine website.