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'Heavenly thank you' offered after charity challenge in memory of Dingwall stalwart

By Louise Glen

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Hamish Menzies with daughter Kirsteen MacLennan.
Hamish Menzies with daughter Kirsteen MacLennan.

Hamish Menzies died suddenly last month at the age of 84.

He had been a leading light of the Royal National Mòd, which took place in Inverness last week, and was involved with Dingwall Gaelic Choir for more than five decades as a supporter and promoter of traditional music and Gaelic in the region.

He was also a Freeman of Ross and Cromarty and his death came as a shock to all those who knew him. Nevertheless, daughter Kirsteen MacLennan was determined to put her best foot forward – literally – and undertook a 55-mile walk to raise funds to help support those living with axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA), an inflammatory arthritic condition where the main symptom is back pain.

Mr Menzies had lived with the painful condition for 55 years.

The MacLennan family with 'mam' Janet Menzies.
The MacLennan family with 'mam' Janet Menzies.

Mrs MacLennan, a music teacher at Dingwall Academy, said: “One in 200 people in the UK lives with axial SpA, yet 91 per cent of the population has never heard of the condition.

“My dear dad lived with his condition without complaint for 55 years and was a driving force behind his local branch of National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS) in Dingwall. He was instrumental in supporting and contributing to every fundraising and social event with his infectious humour, kindness and larger than life character.

“Axial SpA is invisible and leaves people feeling powerless, in increasing pain and extreme exhaustion. It’s progressive, so every year that passes without treatment can lead to more serious damage. If left untreated, it can freeze the spine and permanently fuse bones.”

Raising £1465 for the Step Forward for AS campaign, Mrs Maclennan was joined on her walk by husband Jamie, sons Finlay and Hector, and dog Flora.

Her mother, Janet, also joined her for the final mile.

“We surpassed our target, but nothing compares to the support and kindness shown from our family and friends,” Mrs MacLennan said.

“Thank you all so very, very much.

“Dad would be so humbled by everyone’s generosity, but he would be proud that so many more lovely people are aware of Axial SpA and have helped to fundraise for such a worthy cause.

“So the biggest, and most heavenly, thank you comes from him.”

Lisa Howarth, secretary of the NASS Dingwall group, said: “Hamish was our chairperson, and his death had an impact on our group.

“He was a founder of the group in the 1990s, and he will be greatly missed.

“He was the most genuine man who would help anyone. Over the years he tried many experimental treatments in order to help others.”

She added: “When I had my diagnosis – after 20 years – Hamish was so supportive, and helpful.

“I had seen four or five consultants who told me there was nothing wrong, so when I got my diagnosis I joined the group.

“Hamish had time for everyone. At the time I joined the group, about 15 years ago, I was on the verge of going into a wheelchair, but because of my diagnosis and the support of the group I am still getting about without one.”

Related article: Obituary – Hamish Menzies

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