Macmil­lan Can­cer Care and Bethes­da Hos­pice: meet Etta Macleod, an extra­or­di­nary fundraiser

Exhibited by
Ken Burnett
July 24, 2014
Medium of Communication
Face to face.
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

Individual fundraisers get some staggeringly bad press, particularly those brave enough and committed enough to go up to people that they don’t know, wherever they may be, to ask for a donation face to face. These people, whether paid or volunteers, risk rejection, disapproval and even abuse to raise funds for the cause or causes they believe in. As such, they are the unsung heroes of the fundraising world. Etta Macleod personifies these heroes, so SOFII is proud to pay tribute here to her and her likes.

Creator / originator

Etta Macleod.

Summary / objectives

A volunteer effort to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Care and Bethesda Hospice through sponsorship and cash collection.

During a recent visit to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides my wife, Marie, and I enjoyed a chance encounter with a truly inspiring fundraiser. It was on the MVIsland of Lewis ferry, out of Stornoway on the way to Ullapool that we met this extraordinary woman: Mrs Etta Macleod. We were thrilled to find that Etta’s fundraising is about as unconventional as any could be.

The rugged, stunning island of Lewis is famed among geologists the world over for Lewis gneiss, the hardest rock on planet earth and, at three billion years old, the second oldest rock too.

The whole of Lewis is made of it. It’s no surprise given the beauty of the island that gneiss is pronounced ‘nice’.

Etta Macleod is made of it too. One hundred per cent.

How else could you explain the dedication of a volunteer fundraiser who travels regularly back and forth between island and mainland armed only with a tabard and two collecting boxes to raise money for her favourite causes? Oh and, of course, she’s also equipped with a winning smile and a ready line in engaging chatter too. Plus the permission of the ferry company and the general approval of the many passengers who cross each trip.

When Etta became ill some years ago it was at the time of the round-the-island sponsored cycle. Etta said, ‘I can’t do that. I can though, maybe, raise £25, perhaps £50. But not with a sponsored cycle. I’ll do a sponsored ‘round-the-island’ knit.

Being Etta, that’s just what she did. Only instead of £50 she raised over £2,500. And she knocked on the door of just about every business in Lewis and neighbouring Harris to do it.

We met Etta on the ferry, tabard-clad as in the photo, as she passed the three-hour crossing going round everybody, one by one, soliciting donations with her cheery smile, chatty line in stories and with twin collecting boxes ever in hand – one for Macmillan Cancer Care, the other for Bethesda, Stornaway’s hospice.

People wait patiently at their tables for Etta to work her way round to them, eager to see her shiny, smiley face, happy to spend a few minutes with her and delighted to slip in a £1 or two in return for the fresh, invigorating air of her company.

Without waiting to be asked and in the delightful sing-song lilt of a Lewis islander Etta will venture opinions on just about anything from Scottish independence to the price of fish, tomorrow’s weather and the Queen’s last visit. We only got 10 minutes of Etta and felt that to take more would have been presumptuous and wrong.

But what a pleasure it was.

It’s an odd thing to undertake, this fundraising lark. In many ways all volunteer fundraisers are by definition unconventional as they invariably put themselves on the line, exposed to the not always positive reaction of a busy and sometimes selfish-seeming world. Etta’s fundraising example then is an example on behalf of all volunteer fundraisers everywhere.

They are brilliant, each of them, every single one. Where would we be without them?

View original image
Etta Macleod, complete with collection boxes, in the lounge of the MV Isle of Lewis.