Eleanor McGregor was born in Carluke, Scotland in June 1935. For forty years now she has helped support Action Medical Research. From her early years working as a volunteer, to chairing her local committee and now her ongoing support collecting Paddington Bear collection boxes, Eleanor has helped raise around £200,000.
To celebrate this momentous achievement - and her fortieth anniversary of support - we asked Eleanor to tell her Action story in her own words.
It was 1978 when I first became aware of Action Medical Research; I was working as a school secretary at Braidwood Primary School. There was a young boy there call Paul; he would only have been around seven but I remember he would walk a little differently than his classmates. It was almost as if he were tip-toing. I didn’t know it then, but he was actually in the early stages of multiple sclerosis (MS) and as it transpired Action was heavily involved in fundraising for his treatment. Well I thought it was wonderful that an organisation was helping in this way and I did what I could to find out more information.
It wasn’t long afterwards that I discovered there was a local committee here in Carluke which organised a number of fundraising activities for the charity. That was the start of my journey with Action.
I learnt a great deal in my time as a volunteer; there was so much more to organising fundraising events than I really appreciated at first. But once I got to grips with everything I absolutely loved it. In 1995 I became Chair of the committee and we continued to run weekly events. Anything from bingo nights to concerts… we even published a couple of recipe books! Everyone in Carluke had heard of Action and the regular events were brilliant for keeping the community in touch with one another.
One event I’m particularly proud of was held in around 2003 or 2004. I’m a big fan of music and spent 60 years as a member of the ‘Carluke Society’. Anyway, we invited this touring group from London to come up to Scotland and perform a whole host of songs from West End musicals at the Community Centre. It was quite an ambitious event for us to organise, but it worked and was a complete sell-out. Paddington even joined in the celebrations on stage for the final song! It was such a wonderful evening
There have been so many highlights over the years, but the one that really sticks out was being invited to go down to Buckingham Palace. A reception was held there in 2002 for Action’s 50th anniversary and I was asked to come along and meet the patron HRH Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh. I can honestly say this has been the highlight of my life. The ornate decoration, the history, the beautiful buffet… it was just an unforgettable experience.
Of course they’re very strict about what you can and cannot do when you attend formal engagements like that at the palace. You couldn’t take any photographs for example. And so I managed to borrow some toilet paper to take home as a little souvenir! I’ve still got it somewhere…
I stepped down from the committee in around 2008 but I never stopped supporting Action; to this day I still collect money from the Paddington collection boxes dotted around the town. I’m responsible for around eight of them. The children absolutely love Paddington and it’s lovely to still see them get excited when they spot a collection box in the local shop.
I have such wonderful memories of my time with Action; I continue to enjoy every minute and I’m so grateful to my dear husband Iain who supported me throughout my time in the committee. I’m sure he would have been proud to know that I continue my bit, doing what I can. I just like to know I’m helping make a difference.