Bute cancer support volunteer recognised with award

A woman from Bute has received a national award from Macmillan Cancer Support for providing vital care for people with the illness.

Macmillan Cancer Support volunteer Shona MacKenzie from Bute 9right).

Shona MacKenzie (nee Donald) now lives in Livingston, where as well as working as a childminder she also volunteers for the charity.

The 48-year-old will receive the Deborah Hutton Award, given to Macmillan volunteers who go above and beyond, on June 7 in London.

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She said: “I have been with Macmillan for five years. I got nominated for this award four years ago but didn’t win. But this time I did.

Macmillan Cancer Support volunteer Shona MacKenzie from Bute.

“When I moved to Livingston in January 2014 I did a counselling course, while being a full-time childminder, so I could do this role.

“It’s providing emotional and practical support to people with cancer. I go out into people’s houses. Somebody might need gardening done, help with prescriptions, and some people just want to talk.

“I can only do it during term time as I’m too busy during the school holidays.”

Shona has supported around 16 individuals across West Lothian over the past five years, spending anything from a few weeks to nine months with each individual, while giving her only free morning a week to the Helping Matters programme at Macmillan Cancer Support.

Macmillan Cancer Support volunteer Shona MacKenzie from Bute.

She made the decision to lend her time after seeing how difficult it was to lose her mum Moira to lung cancer when she was just 21.

Growing up in Rothesay, Shona’s father Willie Donald ran the Toffee Shop for many years as well as being a local policeman so the family found it hard to look after Moira in her later years.

Shona said: “I have been truly passionate about Macmillan Cancer Support Scotland since my mum died from cancer when I was 21 and I still lived at home with my dad in Ardmory Road. When mum was ill and still at home we relied on friends and neighbours helping us through the difficult times, then she went into the Victoria Hospital for the last four months of her life.

“So when this came up I thought that’s exactly what I want to do and give something back.

“I might be the only person they see so makes all the different to their lives. There is quite a lot involved with it.

“I feel I’m giving something back and although it’s difficult at times, it’s extremely rewarding.”

Shona has also been nominated for the Charity Champion Award 2019, and in turn the People’s Choice Award.

She said: “My area manager had put me forward for the charity champion award so it’s down to me and three other individuals. And as a result I have been put forward for the People’s Choice Award.

“I am gobsmacked and feel incredibly humble. I feel very honoured and privileged to be able to support individuals on their cancer journey in any which way I can.”

Anita Jefferies, Macmillan volunteer services manager, said: “Shona is simply amazing. She has one very precious free morning each week and she gives this to us at Macmillan. She supports people at any stage of their journey from initial diagnosis to end of life.  She has supported families through the most harrowing of times. 

“She is such a genuine person with such a kind nature. She listens, she undertakes tasks, she supports, she signposts, but most of all she cares.

“I am delighted that Shona has been made a finalist as it is extremely well deserved and we’re really proud of her.”