A Moray political family has raised over £1,000 for Alzheimer Scotland in honour of its matriarch – the late former Glenlivet councillor Anna Scott.
Anna’s grandson and former Keith & Cullen SNP councillor Gary Coull completed Alzheimer Scotland’s Memory Walk last month (Sunday September 18) to raise vital funds and awareness for the charity.
Gary (36) tackled a 16-mile walk across Banffshire in memory of Anna – who sadly passed away earlier this year at the age of 91.
Anna had lived with dementia for 10 years following her initial diagnosis and was a respected figure in the local community of her home village of Dufftown.
She served as councillor for the Glenlivet Ward of Moray District Council from 1990-99 and was a regular at dances and charity events which took place in village halls.
Grandson Gary was the councillor for the Keith & Cullen Ward from 2007-17, while his mother and Anna’s daughter – Theresa Coull – is the current holder of the post.
Gary and his siblings, Stephen and June, started their trek at Anna’s marital home in the village – where she lived with late husband Jim from 1957 – then set off through Craigellachie and Aberlour before doubling back to Dufftown.
Along the way, warm memories were recalled and shared of Anna’s love of dancing and Scottish traditional music, as well as her passion for serving the local community.
This included a walk past the Dufftown-Mortlach twinning sign which Anna unveiled – a link between the village and the Canadian settlement, of which Anna and Jim were active members.
Gary – who now teaches dance himself – says he was hugely influenced and inspired by his granny as he recalled happier times as a family.
Insch resident Gary said:
“She was a huge inspiration to me on a number of fronts, dancing was one of them and, obviously, politics.
“I took up dancing after going to ceilidhs and practising dancing with her.
“She loved ceilidhs and old-time dancing – and even in her later years I can remember vividly dancing with her in her kitchen in Dufftown.
“She’s the only person I’ve ever managed to dance a quickstep with!
“Anytime there was music on, she was moving.
“She loved Scottish traditional music – and some Jim Reeves!
“She was just a kind, lovely person and when she died lots of folk from the community were passing on their sympathies – most saying she was a lovely lady.
“And she was that – a true lady.
“She had a great sparkle in her eyes with a real kindness and that’s what I remember most about her.
“The love for her family, in particular, but her community as well just shone through.
“She was Dufftown’s biggest fan – in fact she was really miffed that she was born in Aberlour because she always wanted to have been Dufftown born and bred!
“She was so passionate about the village and that, ultimately, is what led her to stand for election and represent her community for a decade.
“Even after she retired from the council, she was still involved in the community through various groups.
“She always had that zest for helping those around her.
“She was my inspiration for getting into local politics.
“It was seeing her helping people when I was growing up that made me want to step forward.”
While they hold those memories dear, Gary and his family were keen to raise awareness of dementia as they flew the flag for Alzheimer Scotland’s Memory Walk on their journey.
His granny’s experience with the disease brought the reality of Alzheimer’s home for the family and – while it was never easy – they remain grateful of the support they received.
Raising money and awareness for Alzheimer Scotland is the family’s way of giving back after the Dufftown and wider Moray community rallied round them in tough times.
Gary recalled the changes he noticed in his granny as the symptoms of dementia began to show, adding:
“We began to notice things weren’t as they were and, once my grandad died, it became more obvious.
“They’d been married for over 50 years before he died in 2009 – and it was after that we really began to notice.
“That’s probably quite common where spouses are able to help their partner when they begin to get forgetful.
“It was then when we saw she was more than just forgetful.
“She was diagnosed fairly soon after that.
“It gradually got worse.
“It went from the early days of not remembering things to, latterly, not being able to cook very much, forgetting to eat and, eventually, beginning to wander out of her house.
“But the community in Dufftown were brilliant because they looked after her.
“She then went to live at Anderson’s Care Home in Elgin and they were great with her.
You can still support Gary’s Memory Walk by donating via his fundraising page here: memorywalk.alzscot.org/gary-coull