Lochalsh woman recognised for half-century of fundraising

Morag MacKenzie receives the president’s award from Poppy Scotland president Sir Alistair Irwin. Photo credit: Tex Avery.

A Lochalsh woman has been recognised for a half-century of fundraising for the annual poppy appeal.

Morag MacKenzie from Duirinish is now in her 52nd year carrying out local door-to-door collections ahead of Remembrance Day.

At a recent ceremony in Inverness Town House, Morag received the president’s award for her lifetime of helping others from Sir Alistair Irwin, president of Poppy Scotland.

Big-hearted Morag told the Free Press that she started the collections as a 12-year-old schoolgirl back in 1968, having being given the job by the legendary former Plockton school headmaster Sorley MacLean.

She said: “My sister did it before me, but then when she went away to nursing Sorley MacLean gave the job to me. At that time the tins used to come into the school. I’ve been doing it ever since and still go door-to-door in Duirinish, Achnadarach and Duncraig.

“It’s still important to remember every year — we wouldn’t have what we do today were it not for all those who went before us and made the sacrifices they did.”

Morag said she had no intention of hanging up her collection tin, which last year helped raise a record total for the district.

“I’m hoping to keep going till I reach my sixtieth year and, if I’m fit enough, maybe even longer than that.”

Charlie M MacRae, local convener of the collection for 31 years prior to retirement in 2018, put Morag forward for the prestigious accolade.

He said: “It’s fully deserved. She was always one of the most conscientious collectors, and her efforts have helped bring in thousands over the years. If she missed a house, or someone wasn’t it, she was always sure to go back and get them another night.

“Morag used to joke to folk at the door that her ‘collection tin also takes notes as well as loose change’. But people have certainly responded generously. She’s a worthy recipient of the honour.”

Funds raised from the Poppy Scotland Appeal —  previously known as the Earl Haig Fund — go towards helping army, navy and air force veterans, and those in healthcare in the Erskine Centre in Bishopton where they’ve been caring for military veterans since 1916.

Article by Keith MacKenzie.