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Big-hearted Wick woman's arthritis charity raffle raises over £2000


By David G Scott

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A Wick woman who suffers from a severe form of arthritis has raised £2367.95 to help patients in a special care unit watch their favourite TV shows.

Annmarie McKenzie received donations towards a raffle from local friends, family and businesses as well as social media contacts – she even received support from Rangers and Ross County football teams towards a huge array of gifts.

Annmarie McKenzie surrounded by the raffle gifts for her fundraising appeal which netted a grand total of £2367.95 towards the Highland Rheumatology Unit. Picture: DGS
Annmarie McKenzie surrounded by the raffle gifts for her fundraising appeal which netted a grand total of £2367.95 towards the Highland Rheumatology Unit. Picture: DGS

Annmarie's online fundraiser was for the Highland Rheumatology Unit (HRU) based in Dingwall where patients, like herself, who suffer from severe arthritis often stay over for weeks at a time.

"I'm going down there in November for a couple of weeks and will be using a special pool that's heated to body temperature to help with my condition," said Annmarie.

The 39-year-old has been attending the specialist unit since she was 16 but has been suffering from juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) since she was two-years-old.

Annmarie in the back garden with Denver the dog. She thanked all the people who contributed to her raffle. Picture: DGS
Annmarie in the back garden with Denver the dog. She thanked all the people who contributed to her raffle. Picture: DGS

JIA can cause persistent joint pain, swelling and stiffness with some children experiencing symptoms for only a few months, while others like Annmarie suffer for many years. She has had to control her pain with a cocktail of painkillers for most of her life but admits that she still suffers from the agonising condition on a daily basis. "Other people can turn their head around to look at something but the bones in my neck are fused together so I have to turn my whole body. I also have to have someone cut up food for me as I can't do it myself."

Annmarie says that the services provided by the HRU are "vital to the Highlands and Islands population who have an arthritic condition" like the one she has. She aims to get TVs in the rooms for residential patients as there are Covid restrictions at the unit and they cannot all sit together in a lounge area watching a communal television.

"I was missing Love Island when I was staying there and I thought if I'm missing a programme then there must be other people here who feel the same way." The reality TV show proved to be the catalyst for Annmarie's aim to raise enough money to provide television sets for every patient staying at the Dingwall unit.

There were over 100 raffle prizes that were up for grabs in Annmarie's fundraiser appeal for the Highland Rheumatology Unit. Picture: DGS
There were over 100 raffle prizes that were up for grabs in Annmarie's fundraiser appeal for the Highland Rheumatology Unit. Picture: DGS

Last Friday evening, the big-hearted fundraiser took a step closer to realising her goal with a live Facebook event in which she announced the raffle winners. Annmarie posted a message saying she was feeling really emotional and how she "really didn't think [the raffle] was going to be as big as it is".

Later on, after all the prizes had been allocated she announced that the grand total had exceeded her wildest dreams, hitting a grand total of £2367.95.

"I'm absolutely delighted with it all and want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for buying raffles, donating prizes and giving money," she said.

To get updates on Annmarie's Fundraiser for HRU join her Facebook group at: www.facebook.com/groups/311607450720051


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