The gran of two (Freya, 9 and Etta, 6), who has worked at Johnstone train station for the past 14 years, was a member of the ScotRail Alliance’s charity committee, helping choose MND Scotland as the railway’s charity partner in 2017.
Since the beginning of the partnership (2017 – 2020), Susan been a charity champion in the community, raising funds and awareness for MND.
Susan said, "I had never really heard of MND before. I knew Jimmy Johnstone and Fernando Ricksen had it, but I didn’t really know what that meant until MND Scotland become our charity partner. Hearing stories from people affected really inspired me to do what I can."
Susan has followed the story of Lucy Lintott, Scotland’s youngest person living with MND, who against all odds, has recently given birth to son L.J.
"Lucy’s story really sucked me in. Seeing young people being diagnosed with such a terrible disease and thinking I have a daughter around the same age. There’s no treatment, no cure, no hope and yet someone like Lucy continues living life to the full. So I wanted to do something to help."
Over the past three years Susan has been rallying the troops to help MND Scotland on its journey to a cure. Activities have included bucket collections, raffles, participating in the Glasgow Kiltwalk and a successful fundraising night in October called ‘Raise Your Voice’, which raised over £4,000.
“Raise Your Voice was a great event – we had bands coming to play for free at Ivy Blacks in Glasgow with loads of great raffle prizes. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my amazing friend Linda Boyd who helped me organise the event.”
Grahame Skinner, the lead singer of Hipsway was a huge support, donating money from their sell out gigs on Glasgow in December, and in a social media video promoting the event Skinner called Susan ‘a brilliant force of energy.’
Susan has an impact wherever she goes and whatever she is doing; getting friends, family and even strangers on board.
"I get everyone involved. My daughter did the zip slide across the Clyde for MND Scotland and my friend did the Forth Bridge Abseil because I’m scared of heights. I did the Glasgow Kiltwalk with my grandkids, Freya and Etta, in 2018 and they are now MND Scotland champions too. They want to help find the ‘magic medicine’ to cure MND.
“I’m not afraid to ask people for things – if people know the story and what it’s all about they usually want to help in some way. I talk to everyone and don’t miss a chance. There were guys outside tarmacking the ground at the station, so I just popped out and asked them who I could speak to about a raffle prize for MND Scotland – they ended up giving me a cheque for £500! All people can say is no and they rarely do.
“The Provost Lorraine Cameron even came to Johnstone station and worked for the day selling tickets to raise funds for MND.”
Just last month the ScotRail Alliance announced it would be extending its charity partnership with MND Scotland for another two years, until 2022.
Susan said, “I’m delighted ScotRail has decided to keep MND Scotland as its charity because it really is such a worthwhile cause, but honestly for me it wouldn’t have made a difference. I’m a supporter for life and will continue doing things for the charity for as long as I can. I’ve already started making plans for more gigs and am calling on colleagues and friends to sign up for this year’s Glasgow Kiltwalk.”
In January, MND Scotland announced the launch of the UK’s biggest MND clinical drug trial. The charity invested £1.5 million into the trial, which will be open to almost every person with MND in Scotland. Susan is planning to continue raising funds towards a cure and has set herself the target of walking 10,000 steps every day in March to boost her current total and reach £10,000.
“It’ll be a challenge but that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? I’m hoping other ScotRail staff are going to join me – I have four signed up already!
“This community supports everything I do. Whether it’s a penny or a pound, it’s all helping to get us to that cure. Without fundraising we wouldn’t have this new clinical trial in Scotland right now. MND takes no prisoners. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor or the fittest person in the world. It can affect anyone, at any time, from any walk of life.
“I don’t even think about it. I just do it because I can. We can’t sit back and do nothing. We need to keep going.”
Morag McGown, MND Scotland’s Corporate Partnerships Manager, said “Thanks to our partnership with the ScotRail Alliance more and more people are now aware of, and supporting MND Scotland.
“Susan is always coming up with new fundraising initiatives and supporting us locally to raise awareness. Ambassadors, like Susan, are the driving force behind our charity, helping us continue to provide practical, emotional and financial support to families when they need it most.
“We also wouldn’t have been able to invest £1.5 million into one of the most comprehensive MND drug trials in a generation. It’s because of the generosity, drive and passion of our fundraisers that we are closer to a cure than ever before.
“I’d like to thank Susan and the many other ScotRail employees and customers who are joining us on our journey to a cure.”
You can help Susan reach her target by donating online at: scotrail-fundraising.everydayhero.com/uk/10-000-steps-for-10-000.