Leave a lasting legacy with once-in-lifetime gift

Charities such as Leuchie House can have a healthy and secure future if only more people will it to be so, writes Alison Cameron

Last year Leuchie House welcomed 467 guests for respite care, an achievement that would not have been possible without legacies

As a fundraiser for more than 20 years, I know only too well the value of legacies to charities.

Which is why, after a recent significant birthday, I decided to rewrite my will pledging my legacy to Leuchie House.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

I realise I leave myself open to the claim that I am only doing so because I work at Leuchie, but in fact I am doing so because I know first-hand the difference a legacy makes, both to the charity and to the individual.

The best thing about a legacy is it is probably the biggest single gift you’ll ever make, whether you split some of your estate between several charities or give a percentage to just one. It’s a bit like planning what you would do if you won the lottery – but the odds are actually pretty good that this one will happen.

It is not a subject we like to spend much time dwelling on, especially when we’re feeling fit and healthy, but writing a will helps your loved ones through a very sad and difficult time. Without one, there can be difficult situations where estates may not go where you intended without clear instruction. By writing one, you not only avoid this but can also choose to support charities you have donated to over the years or which have special meaning to you.

Letting Leuchie House know about my legacy means they can note the gift for the future. Donations made to charities over a lifetime obviously make a huge difference to the work they do. Most of us are used to seeing a “shopping list” of what a monthly donation can do – whether it’s supporting a child in a developing country with fresh water; training a guide dog; providing vital equipment for a respite centre like Leuchie; enabling one hour of counselling … the list is endless.

What we don’t always know is the impact one legacy gift can make. And it’s often much more than we think we can achieve. Leuchie House offers respite breaks for people and their families living with long-term conditions such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy and Huntington’s.

Last year Leuchie provided 6,279 days of respite. Every day, life can be a challenge for the people who come to Leuchie – and their families and carers. Every day, donations help to reduce those challenges and create something positive for the people who come for respite. The positive impact of a legacy gift will ensure this can go on, and we can help more people.

• 467 guests were welcomed to Leuchie in 2014 for a vital respite break.

• 87 people were able to come to Leuchie for the first time.

• 36 carers were able to enjoy time with their loved one without the caring responsibilities they normally have by sharing a break with them at Leuchie.

• 693 referrals were made to community health professionals in relation to wheelchair assessments or clinical care on behalf of guests and carers.

Our supporters have helped more than 500 individuals and their families and carers each year, giving them choice, dignity and respect.

As a very young charity – Leuchie only became independent in 2011 – Leuchie House has not yet received many legacies, but that is something we are hoping will change as the charity becomes more established to enable us to plan better for the future.

Legacies we have been fortunate enough to receive range from £1,000 to £20,000 and I know firsthand from working at Leuchie that every single penny really does count.

A legacy can provide immediate funding for some very critical needs. £1,000 could fund the in-house activities and entertainment for two months. This social aspect is a key factor in what makes Leuchie unique and ensures our guests get the most from their respite break.

A legacy of £20,000 equates to one third of our annual heating and lighting costs. That’s a phenomenal gift – especially when you consider Leuchie is an 18th century country house and takes some heating! If house prices don’t crash, my legacy to Leuchie could pay the annual salary of three care assistants. To me that really is the gift of a lifetime and something I couldn’t dream to do right now – but knowing I can in the future is a lovely thought. And knowing the difference the care assistants make to the lives of all the wonderful people who take respite breaks at Leuchie makes it all the more special.

Alison Cameron is fundraising manager at Leuchie House