A Scot has been honoured for her outstanding work in founding a charity for military veterans.
Prime Minister Theresa May recognised Fiona MacDonald, from Inverness-shire, for supporting veterans and service personnel through artistic events and rehabilitation.
Fiona is an opera singer and founder of the Bravehound initiative, which matches veterans with companion dogs to support their rehabilitation and provide therapy for those diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Bravehound trains veterans and dogs, and provides welfare support for the full length of the dog’s life. It was voted as the UK’s best voluntary project at the 2017 National Lottery Awards and is a finalist in the 2019 Soldiering On Awards.
Fiona also founded Glen Art which has now become Bravehound, helping people from military backgrounds return to civilian life through artistic events. Fiona was inspired to set up the charity in memory of her great aunt, nurse Mary McKinnon killed on the hospital ship Glenart Castle in 1918, and from regularly performing at commemoration concerts and events for military charities.
In a personal letter to Fiona, the Prime Minister said: ‘Drawing on your own family’s history, you have dedicated yourself to supporting veterans and their families when they need it most. With your Bravehound initiative, you have developed an innovative project that is having a truly positive effect on the lives of those veterans affected by PTSD.
‘Through Glen Art you have also produced a creative and moving way of supporting our Armed Forces. I wish you every success with your continued work.’
Fiona is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.
Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.
Fiona was presented with her award by Maurice Corry MSP, convener of the cross-party group in the Scottish Parliament on Armed Forces and Veterans Community, at the Scottish Parliament.
Maurice Corry MSP said: ‘Fiona Macdonald has done an outstanding job for our veterans in founding and running Bravehound. Fiona has worked tirelessly with this organisation, which has successfully helped many veterans who have PTSD through rehabilitation and therapy.
‘Through her work she has literally saved the lives of veterans who have been helped by Bravehound and their dogs.
Her excellent work continues to do this as Bravehound expands its support to our veterans today.’
Fiona added: ‘I am incredibly honoured to have been chosen by the Prime Minister for a Point of Light Award. Through Glen Art and now Bravehound we have commemorated many events and the lives of individuals who lived and died during the First World War.
‘We believe that honouring the memory of those who died a hundred years ago is best achieved by supporting veterans of today and we are so proud to provide Bravehound dogs and to organise social and artistic events for the veterans we serve, it’s such a privilege to work with such incredible people and I’m delighted to accept this award on behalf of all of the Bravehound team.’
Fiona is the 1106th winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA.