Postman leaves £637k to Forres elderly

THE ELDERLY in Moray are to benefit from a bequest – now worth £637,000 – left by a local postie and has lain dormant for over a decade.
William Cameron had been a postman for Forres and surrounding areas. Picture: ComplimentaryWilliam Cameron had been a postman for Forres and surrounding areas. Picture: Complimentary
William Cameron had been a postman for Forres and surrounding areas. Picture: Complimentary

When 89-year-old widower William Cameron died in 1982 the retired Forres postman left the bulk of his wealth to residents of a local old people’s home where he spent his final years.

But when the council-run Auchernack home closed down 12 years ago, the terms of his bequest meant the money could not be used for any other purpose.

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However, following protracted legal efforts by Moray Council, the bequest has been revised and the cash is now to be used for the benefit of the elderly in the area.

Amazingly, the original bequest was worth £63,000, but the value now stands at more than 10 times that amount.

Mr Cameron is believed to have inherited much of his fortunate from either a brother or an aunt.

He had worked with the Post Office from 1912 until he retired in 1958, apart from serving with the Gordon Highlands in World War One during which he was wounded twice.

He died at Leanchoil Hospital in Forres in 1982.

The terms of his will, made in 1979, simply read: “I leave and bequeath the whole residue of my said means and estate to Auchernack Home, Forres.”

The restrictive wording meant that after the home closed around 12 years ago, the bequest became effectively dormant and no funds could legally be disbursed.

Now, following lengthy negotiations, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has approved the council’s application to vary the terms to enable funds to be disbursed.

Although the value of the bequest has fluctuated due to interest rates and share prices, it currently stands at more than £637,000 in cash and stocks and shares.

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A council spokesman said: “Solicitors at Moray Council, which administers the bequest, looked at how its terms could be varied to allow money to be released and sought counsel opinion on a possible application to the Court of Session.

“However, they were advised that such an application would not only be costly but was unlikely to be successful because of the very specific terms of Mr Cameron’s will.

“The only other available option was to apply to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator which was established following the introduction of new legislation governing the Scottish charity sector.

“Following lengthy discussions, the application for charitable status for what had become known as the Auchernack Trust was made late last year and confirmation has now been received that it has been approved.

“The revised terms of the bequest now allows it to be used for the benefit of the elderly community in the Forres area and for the ‘relief of those in need by reason of advanced age’.”

The new windfall only applies to pensioners in Forres.

They have to prove they warrant a grant to go towards a project which they believe will change their lives - and it will be judged by a panel of five appointed trustees.

A Moray Council spokesman said: “Now that the wording has changed, anyone can make an application for cash, as long as they are elderly, or represent the elderly, and they live in Moray.

“It can be really wide ranging, as long as the money can help them because of their age.

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“It could be as simple as lowering a doorstep or carpet replacement which makes it easier for the applicant.

“It could even amount to the annual bus trip for a group.

“The money is now there to improve the lives of elderly people in Forres.”