Oban woman’s sweet gesture to late Brian MacDonald

Tia MacDonald next and Oban fundraiser Helen Jackson MBE.

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The memory of Oban’s Brian MacDonald lives on with a kind-hearted fundraiser doing her bit for Motor Neurone Disease.

Helen Jackson MBE, of Oban, had closely followed Brian’s inspiring story in The Oban Times. While she didn’t know him or his family personally, she was moved to help.

The 82-year-old fundraiser already had a soft spot for the MND charity because her nephew’s father-in-law passed away from it.

Determined to raise around £300, Helen devised a ‘sweetie quiz’ for friends with a first prize of £10 and a series of mouth-watering cryptic clues.

People had to guess the answers to clever teasers such as ‘Wobbly infants’ and ‘Chocolate bus’ – the answers being Jelly Babies and Double Decker.

Helen explained: ‘We were in lockdown so long I thought it would give all my friends and me something to do.

‘It just snowballed from there. Some people handed over £10, £20 and sometimes £30.’

In total, around 40 folk completed the challenge and Oban’s famed generosity surpassed her expectations to raise £500.

Tia MacDonald, Brian’s sister, and mum Annie, were on hand to draw the winner and gratefully accept the cheque.

It will go to MND Scotland, Glasgow, the leading charity providing care and support to people affected by the terminal illness, as well as funding vital research into a cure.

Tia promised that when social distancing allowed, she would be straight round to Helen’s house to reward her with a great big hug for her efforts!

Tia explained that awareness of MND – the name given to a group of illnesses which affect the body’s motor nerves – is growing.

It follows on from the well-publicised experiences of former Rangers Football Club star Fernando Ricksen, who died in September last year, aged 43.

Doddie Weir, 50, the former lock for the Scotland Rugby Union side, has also helped raise its profile having revealed he too suffers from it.

Tia said: ‘Our Brian wasn’t a big person in the limelight like them but he has helped get it across through The Oban Times and The Press & Journal. We are so, so thankful. As Helen said herself, it’s a cause close to her own heart.’

Mum Annie, originally from the Isle of Barra, said: ‘I would just like to thank everyone  as a lot of people went out of their way to organise events and fund raise for MND.

‘People have been so, so good and the way we look at it is now is that we haven’t got Brian, but we hope these funds help some other soul not to suffer the way he did.’

Brave Brian, 43, who spent 13 years in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and was a well-liked, charismatic personality, died on July 15.

The family was immensely touched by Oban turning out en-masse for his service while fire stations across Scotland also marked the day, with a massive salute to Brian from Oban Fire Station.

To fund raise for MND visit https://www.mndscotland.org.uk/fundraising/organise-your-own-event/