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£10,000 gift for Raigmore Hospital ward from sales of north man's book helps repay massive debt of gratitude to staff


By Alan Hendry

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Donald MacDonald decided to raise money for Ward 5a at Raigmore Hospital through sales of his book, Life’s Too Short for Ironing Shirts. Picture: Alan Hendry
Donald MacDonald decided to raise money for Ward 5a at Raigmore Hospital through sales of his book, Life’s Too Short for Ironing Shirts. Picture: Alan Hendry

A Highland hospital ward where patients receive cancer treatment has been given a £10,000 gift thanks to a north man's storytelling abilities.

Donald MacDonald raised the money for Ward 5a at Raigmore through sales of his book, Life’s Too Short for Ironing Shirts, and donations from well-wishers.

Donald (56), of Forss, near Thurso, spent months on the ward after being diagnosed with leukaemia last year. In recognition of the care and kindness he received there, Donald resolved to raise funds for items to benefit other patients.

The book is an entertaining collection of tales based on many of his experiences and encounters over the years.

Some money was handed over in August and Donald has now brought the total up to the £10,000 mark.

"I thought it was a nice gesture to give them that money as a boost just before Christmas," he said.

Life’s Too Short for Ironing Shirts had its launch in Thurso in June. The initial print of 1000 sold out quickly, so Donald arranged a further 500 copies, with all proceeds going to Ward 5a once printing costs had been covered.

“A lot of people gave me an extra fiver and an extra tenner, and one person bought a book and gave me £100," he said.

Donald is a farmer who is well known in Caithness and beyond for his work in landscape gardening.

He became unwell while on a trip to South America in January 2020 with his friend Ian Leith. They had been exploring the links between Caithness and Patagonia and meeting some of the descendants of the emigrant families.

Donald MacDonald (centre) with Chris Nicolson and Ian Leith outside the Manor House hotel in Thurso where Life’s Too Short for Ironing Shirts was launched in June. Picture: Alan Hendry
Donald MacDonald (centre) with Chris Nicolson and Ian Leith outside the Manor House hotel in Thurso where Life’s Too Short for Ironing Shirts was launched in June. Picture: Alan Hendry

Donald had an initial spell of 86 days in Ward 5a before returning for a further 30 days.

He said: “I'd like to thank the people that sold the book on my behalf and the people who bought it. The book has gone everywhere – Australia, New Zealand, North America, South America, Switzerland, Germany.

"Everybody is asking me about doing a second book. If I'm spared and well, I'm going to collect a few stories and maybe in 10 years' time I'll do another one."

Iona McGauran, lead nurse for Raigmore Hospital, said: "It is always gratifying for our staff to hear that the care they have provided is appreciated. This is an incredible gesture and I know this donation, which is an amazing sum, will be very much appreciated by the ward team.

"I'd like to extend a huge thank you to Mr MacDonald for this donation – it really is very kind of him."

Life’s Too Short for Ironing Shirts was transcribed by Ian Leith and edited and typeset by Chris Nicolson under the imprint Teeniemaleek Publications. It was printed by Caithness Print Solutions.

Copies (priced £10) are available through Elizabeth's Fabrics in Thurso or by emailing Donald at donaldmacdonald1@btinternet.com

The cover design for Donald MacDonald's book.
The cover design for Donald MacDonald's book.


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