My Mum is a quiet hero.
She won’t read this unless one of her more connected pals (or me) print it off for her.
But. She is. A hero.
I’m inclined to call her a heroine but I think that word may be becoming old school; like actress. Most actresses prefer the moniker, actor, these days and I think that’s fitting for my mum to extend the convention.
So. She’s a hero.
Some 30 years or so ago she started working at a homeless refuge called The Matt Talbot Association in Leith, in a building, an old church, that, I think, was called the Calton Centre, owing to its view of Calton Hill perhaps.
In any case, a homeless refuge, where men and women could drop in from the streets and share a cup of soup, some sandwiches and a little TLC.
It was unfunded. So she took it upon herself to establish an annual wine and cheese party at Holy Cross Church Hall where the good people of the parish lavishly invested in the opportunity to win in an evening of booze fuelled raffles (entirely inappropriate given that many of the beneficiaries were alcoholics.)
Apart from the odd chocolates every single prize ever was bevvy.
We also had an indescribably indescribable Tombola where, if you were lucky, you might win a scented candle or a Big Slipper or a salt sellar or a moon bear purse or a ill-conceived picture frame containing a poorly worded aphorism.
One year my great friend, Mike Donoghue, came along at the end of the evening with a pal, a little refreshed, and proceeded to win a TV.
The star prize.
Two minutes through the door, ten pounds lighter of wallet, but a winner.
His embarrasement was tangible and he immediately put it back to re-raffle.
I’d have kept it.
You pays your money, you take your chances.
Anyway, the event was an immediate hit and she and my dad persevered as we, gradually coming of age, as her children and in-law children, became her supporting cast. My Dad: impresario in chief, and a born showman took centre stage and MC’ed the evenings to great effect.
Year after year the events raised between £1,000 and £3,000. but the day came, some 20 -25 years later, when the Talbot Association ran its course and that more or less coincided with my father also moving on to an observational, rather than participatory, role from the great parish of St Peters in the sky.
But this was meant, I think, because my Dad left this mortal coil at the venerable St Columba’s Hospice and, with the timing so appropriate, we shifted our new found energies to raising the evening’s funds for St Columba’s.
However, in March this year we decided the event, in round about its 30th year, had perhaps run its course. My Mum had made, perhaps, £50,000 for The Talbot Association and had, in one fell swoop, funded its requirements year in, year out for the best part of a quarter of a century.
St Columba’s, being more organised, was able to confirm that in the seven latter years that they had become the beneficiary, had banked a few pounds short of £20,000.
My mum doesn’t go for bigging herself up, but, as she approaches her 80th birthday, and having finally taken a rest, I think she deserves a wee tip of the hat in acknowledgement of her determined achievements.
And I also think the generosity of the parish of Holy Cross should not go unacknowledged.
Of course, she has not achieved this alone. Many people have been part of her team; Vic, Dougie, Gerry, Arthur, Annie, Robert, Chris, Angelo and more, many more.
Well done Mum.