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Tommy's treasure; HOW WE TEAMED UP WITH MSP TO DONATE TO GOOD CAUSES.

Byline: RON MOORE, Chief Reporter

CHRISTMAS is the season of giving. But here at the Scottish Daily Mirror, we believe in giving to good causes all year round.

This year we teamed up with our brilliant columnist Tommy Sheridan to help out a few organisations that do great things for our communities all over Scotland.

Every Wednesday in Tommy's column, the Socialist Party leader donates his pounds 200 fee to a variety of charities. So far, together, we have showered thousands of pounds on Scots charities.

Tommy is already the most well-known and popular MSP in Holyrood. He is also a committed humanitarian, tireless anti-war protest=or, and committed fighter of poverty, injustice and human suffering.

All year long his Mirror column has been highlighting the excellent work of good causes which strive to make a difference.

Whether it' is vulnerable children, battered women seeking refuge, people suffering from painful diseases such as cancer and dementia, or the plight of abandoned animals, Tommy is on the case.

Cash has also gone to special needs kids, epilepsy charities, burns victims, and to the brave servicemen and women who have fought for their country.

Whether big or small, national or local, all kinds of charities have benefited - helping them to help the most vulnerable members of society.

We have a prepared a tour of just some of the charities around Scotland and beyond whom Tommy and the Mirror have helped.

And we wish them, and all our a readers, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

RAIGMORE HOSPITAL, INVERNESS

THE excellent staff at the Renal Unit at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness work hard helping people living with irreversible kidney diseases to survive.

The dedicated team of health professionals provide the vital care and medical attention that patients need.

The unit can take up 66 patients on dialysis each day, a treatment where machines replace the function of the kidneys and wash the blood.

Without dialysis the patients' blood would slowly poison them.

However, the hard-pressed unit sees patients who have to travel hundreds of miles across the north of Scotland to the Highland capital for life-saving treatment.

The lack of a unit in Fort William impacts hard on the patients and staff in Inverness.

Sister Anne Allan said: "In April of this year, Tommy Sheridan took time out of his busy schedule to pay a visit to the Renal Unit in Raigmore Hospital.

"During his visit Mr Sheridan met with both patients and staff from the department to gain a greater understanding of the difficulties encountered by patients who undergo haemodialysis. We felt that Mr Sheridan had a genuine interest in our speciality and the patients concerned were pleased to have had the opportunity to meet with him and share their views on a variety of issues.

"Following his visit Mr Sheridan donated pounds 200 to our Renal Unit Endowment Fund, money raised from his contribution to a newspaper column.

"We are extremely grateful for his generous donation."

MILTON ANIMAL WELFARE CENTRE

OPENED in 1962, the Milton Animal Welfare Centre rescue over 2,000 animals from Scotland's streets every year.

The dedicated team of animal experts from the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals work to save the lives of abandoned pets, caring for them, organising veterinary care, then nursing them back to health and eventually finding them new homes.

But the cash-strapped charity is in crisis and faces closing vital rescue centres which are the lifeline to hundreds of cats, dogs and other small animals, discarded by owners who no longer care.

Bosses at the Milton centre in Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, told how they were overjoyed when Tommy Sheridan surprised them with his cash donation earned from his Daily Mirror column.

And the Scottish Daily Mirror has campaigned tirelessly on behalf of the brilliant animal welfare centres which Tommy and many Scots support.

Milton AWC manager Joe McDaid said: "Cash donations are an absolute lifeline to us.

"We thought it was absolutely fantastic that Tommy, and I know how busy he is, found the time and the money to help us.

"We were facing closure at our centres and it was excellent that Tommy spoke out about it.

"It was even better that he choose to make a donation, helping to highlight the problems our organisation faces.

"The centre itself raises money through different organisations such as schools and colleges but we are always needing funds to help us function.

"Donations from animal lovers are always welcome and we thank all our contributors. It's fantastic when we receive donations."

ERSKINE HOSPITAL

THIS amazing charity has cared for 70,000 Scottish servicemen and women since opening in 1916 to care for injured veterans of the Great War.

Today it looks after 700 veteran members of the navy, air force and the army at its purpose-built Renfrewshire location.

The vital hospice tends to the needs of veterans of conflicts dating from World War Two up to the modern day.

The brilliant facility provides an unrivalled range of residential, nursing and dementia care in special nursing homes for the brave men and women who have served their country.

Director of Support Services Colonel Bobby Steele heaped praise on the Mirror's Tommy Sheridan for helping the charity to make their Christmas a little better. He said: "We were absolutely delighted to receive Tommy's kind donation.

"For this year it will go to making Christmas a little bit more special for our people.

"Our Christmas party, which is being held in the Activity Centre at the Hospital, will be even more brighter thanks to the cash.

"Our guys are very much looking forward to the celebrations which bring a lot of cheer to their faces.

"Donations are absolutely vital to the charity and they go towards those who have sacrificed so much for their country."

ALZHEIMER SCOTLAND

THESE wonderful volunteers run Scotland's only charity shop dedicated to raising cash for people suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.

Led by formidable Linda Gilmour, the 16-strong team is a veritable lifeline to the 61,000 Scots who suffer from dementia.

The tireless, big-hearted girls run a charity shop in Renfrew called First for Seconds. They rely on donations, and sell second-hand goods to raise cash. And every penny they raise goes toward people suffering from Alzheimer's and their carers.

Linda, 44, founder and organiser for Alzheimer Scotland, praised Tommy Sheridan and the Mirror for the cash donation, and for highlighting the horrifying condition which blights the lives of so many Scots.

She said: "We were thrilled to bits when we received the cash from Tommy. He is a gem of a man.

"He even came along and played in a game of celebrity football to help raise funds. We were also delighted to see the Mirror highlight our charity and Alzheimer's Disease."

CAPTION(S):

BIG-HEARTED: George Robertson with Erskine Home care worker Carol McGregor; DEDICATED: Sister Anne Allan, left; RESCUED: A pooch at Milton; TIRELESS CARER: Linda Gilmour
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 26, 2003
Words:1161
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