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For more than 150 years, The Salvation Army has worked to aid those most in need and today is active in virtually every corner of the world, pledging to offer ‘God’s hope and love’ to all those in need without discrimination.
And that sense of compassion and duty was very much on display on Sunday in Fort William at the organisation’s local base in Belford Road when a new Corps Officer was installed for the town.
Major Janet McIntyre, the current Corps Officer for the Salvation Army in Kinlochleven, has now added Fort William to her remit following the departure of Major Elaine Turner.
The latter took up a new position for the organisation in Thurso last week after what she told the Lochaber Times was ‘seven happy years’ in Fort William.
Major McIntyre was installed as the Corps Officer at Fort William Salvation Army by Captain Peter Renshaw.
The installation saw Major McIntyre preach from 2 Timothy: 1 of The Bible and speak about ‘handing on the baton’. She thanked Major Turner for her previous seven years ministry at the corps and encouraged the congregation to continue working together for the ‘good of the Kingdom’.
Major McIntyre told the Lochaber Times she felt the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown had underlined the need more than ever for an organisation such as The Salvation Army.
But she said she intends to take things slowly when it comes to building up the Fort William branch as the country eases its way out of lockdown.
‘Yes, I certainly think so when it comes to our relevance. Even in Kinlochleven where all we do is hold charity sales. But it lets people get out of their houses again and socialise,’ she explained.
‘Quite a number of these folk who come are living on their own and the pandemic has been a long, long time for them because most of them have been self-isolating due to their age or health conditions or both.
‘But they are able to come along to the sales, which are like jumble sales really, pick up a bargain or two, have a chat and we have music. I hope to do something similar at Fort William and just see what the local needs are.
‘Our headquarters said now is the time to do it as people are gradually easing way back in after lockdown, so we need to work out what’s needed in the area as I don’t want to just jump in with two feet and regret it afterwards!’
Although there is only a small number in The Salvation Army in Fort William at the moment, Major McIntyre said she hopes to build on this in the future.
‘Folk are still nervous about being out and about, so we will have to work to gradually get them to get out again,’ she said.
On Major Turner’s move to Thurso, Major McIntyre said: ‘We wish her and the family, her husband Stanley, her son Daniel and her daughter Gemma, all the best as she takes responsibility there.
‘I would like to thank her for all the work she and the family have done in reaching out to the people of Fort William. In leading the Church; in managing the community side of things – cameo club, lunch club, craft class, children’s clubs and so much more.
They will be missed by many people. I wish them well and pray God’s richest blessings on them.’
Asked how she felt about leaving Fort William, Major Turner told us: ‘Myself and my family arrived in Fort William in July 2013 and served the Corps and community of Fort William for seven very happy years.
‘My reason for our move to Thurso is in line with Salvation Army principles that we only normally stay in an appointment for five years, but due to personal circumstances we were granted a two-year extension.’