Thanks to the kindness of the late Mr Michael O’Donnell, five veterans have moved into their new accommodation in the Veterans Village on the Erskine Estate, Bishopton.
The newly built Assisted Living Apartments were partly funded by a substantial legacy left to veterans’ charity Erskine by Mr O’Donnell who was born in Leith, Edinburgh in 1920.
This week, Michael’s son Keith, will make a poignant visit to the apartments which have been named Kimberlea House in memory of his father and his home in Dunbar.
Keith said: “My father was a veteran of WW2 joining the Highland Light Infantry in 1939 and serving until 1946 when he left the Army as a Warrant Officer. He rarely spoke about the war although we do know that he never lost an appreciation that he was one of the lucky ones, he came home. It was no surprise to me that he wanted to leave all his assets to charity, the bulk of which he left to Erskine to help support the marvellous work they do caring for veterans. We are all immensely proud of the facility which Erskine has created with his legacy.”
Erskine Chief Executive Ian Cumming MBE said: “We are extremely grateful to the late Michael O’Donnell for his generosity in remembering our veterans in his will. His gift has transformed the lives of veterans that had a specialist housing need. They now live independently in a safe and peaceful home environment, with help and support from us when required. Mr O’Donnell’s kindness will continue to improve the lives of many and he will not be forgotten.”
The first veteran moved into Kimberlea House on 1st November. The five apartments, which are connected to The Erskine Home, enable veterans to live as independently as possible for as long as possible. A range of services are available to the residents to assist them including provision of meals; cleaning; laundry; call alarm response and a weekly shopper bus. The Reid Macewen Activity Centre is also part of the Veterans Village, where they are welcome to take part in recreational and social activities.
Michael O’Donnell was orphaned at the age of 14 and moved to Berwick on Tweed to live with one of his older sisters and her husband. He started work in Liptons in Berwick in 1934 and in 1939 moved to Liptons in Dunbar. It was in Dunbar where he met Betty Knox and they married in 1940, having three children.
He returned to Dunbar after the war and continued to work with Liptons until he retired in 1982. He was always active in the community including Rotary, the local Traders’ Association, the Scout Association, the Day Centre and latterly the Probus Club. On his 90th birthday in 2010 Michael received an award from Dunbar Community Council in recognition of his contribution to the community over the previous 60 years. He died peacefully in April 2017 with his family by his side.
Leaving a gift to Erskine in your will can make a big difference to the lives of our veterans. We rely on the generosity of many individuals to help us support the ex-Service community now and in the future. Without legacies, the level of care we provide would be very different, and so would the lives of many of our residents. Every gift, small or large, can make a difference in helping us support veterans who sacrifice so much and who deserve the best care in return.