Kilwinning’s Heather Speirs was one of the well-deserved winners at the North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership’s ‘Celebration of Care’ event held in June at the Volunteer Rooms in Irvine. She was named Community Superhero for her work in supporting the community of North Ayrshire.
I caught up with Heather recently to find out more about her role as a community volunteer. Born in Northern Ireland, the retired head teacher moved from Linlithgow to Kilwinning when she married in 1979.
“I’ve always been involved in volunteering in one way or another. I was a Sunday school teacher for five years before I became a teacher and I volunteered for the Samaritans for about eight years. I have also been a church elder for 25 years.”
Before she retired, Heather began giving to Women’s Aid at Christmastime and continued to do so for a number of years. She then donated to Toy Sunday, an initiative organised by her local church, Abbey Church in Kilwinning.
“The toys were going to the social work office in Ardrossan. They really appreciated what I could give them, and I received such wonderful feedback.”
Heather has now been supporting the social work department for several years. But it’s not only the satisfaction of helping others that motivates her to continue.
“I’m a good shopper and a great bargain hunter,” she confesses. “TK Maxx have a wonderful sale every January… so I go to Kilmarnock, Ayr and Linwood and sometimes to Glasgow. The sale lasts two or three weeks until the end of January and I buy the bulk of the gifts then. Home Bargains and Sainsbury’s are really good as well.”
A memory from her teaching days relating to a primary school Christmas party also encourages her to continue her generous contributions.
“I always remember there was one child in the class… her mum didn’t come and change her out of her school uniform for her Christmas party and the child begged me to let her take a dress from the dressing up box and put it on. I never forgot that. I felt for the child because she didn’t want to be the only one in the photograph in school uniform. So I give dresses to the social work department at Christmas as well.”
These shopping trips are funded entirely by Heather with the clothing, toys and books that she buys all being donated to children in need up to 16 years of age. It was this selflessness that led to her Community Superhero award.
“It was a surprise,” she tells me when I ask about the event. “I knew I was one of three finalists but didn’t think I’d win.”
The award was presented by Thelma Bowers, Head of Mental Health Services for North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership and was one of six individual and five team awards presented at the event.
Through her church she is also involved in the Blythswood Care Shoebox appeals and Mary’s Meals Backpack Project for which she sends essential supplies and some treats to Eastern Europe, the Far East and Africa.
Heather remains committed to helping deprived children both overseas and in North Ayrshire and is fully deserved of her Community Superhero award. Well done, Heather!