Why I am leaving a gift in my will to help eradicate leprosy
Sheila Millar from the Borders has made the decision to leave a gift in her Will to the work of The Leprosy Mission Scotland. Here she tells us why, and why helping leprosy-affected people is so important to her.
Sheila first heard about leprosy as a young child at Sunday School, but it wasn’t until many years later that she found herself face to face with a leprosy-affected person. It was while she was working at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore during the 1960’s that Sheila met leprosy-affected patients from India who were receiving treatment. She remembers that many of them had TB as well as leprosy. Patients who had had amputations would come into the hospital to have the stumps cleaned.
On one occasion, Sheila went to see a man who was receiving treatment on the ward. Sheila was a shorthand typist who worked with the medical social workers. They were supporting the patient with his finances and other practical matters. When Sheila heard he was being discharged she said goodbye and shook his hand. It was a simple act, but to this one man it meant a great deal. Later on the social worker gave Sheila a box of chocolates and when she asked who the gift was from, she was told it was from the patient she had said goodbye to, because she had shaken his hand. Having experienced hatred and rejection because of his leprosy, this patient found compassion and acceptance in a simple handshake.
Sheila’s compassion for leprosy-affected people has continued across the decades. When she moved to the Borders and joined a church, John McConnell from TLM Scotland, came to give a talk. Sheila remembers him bringing along a pair of protective sandals to show the congregation. Sheila said, “at that point I realised how prevalent leprosy still was. We got the collection boxes and I think I must have started a regular donation then, and really it’s just gone on from there”.
Over many years Sheila has supported the work of the Leprosy Mission Scotland through making donations, taking on sponsored walks, volunteer work and even organising a fundraising tea party! Her decision to leave a legacy gift to the work arose out of her lifetime of support. “I support two charities including The Leprosy Mission Scotland and when I made my own Will, when my circumstances changed, I chose to leave gifts to both of them. I don’t have any dependents and I just think it is well worth doing”.
Sheila hopes that in future her gift will not only help treat the medical aspects of leprosy, but also challenge the discrimination people face, freeing them to live full and happy lives. She said, “what surprised me and I learned more about once I was getting the bulletins and information from TLM Scotland, was the rejection and isolation that people can face because of leprosy, and the ignorance there is about the disease. It’s not just about treating the disease but the education projects that TLM does and the empowerment projects and self-help groups that are very important. I think local people in the community being trained to help others with spotting symptoms is really wonderful.”
Thanks to her special legacy gift, Sheila’s ministry to leprosy-affected people will continue long into the future. We are extremely grateful for faithful supporters who enable us to minister the love of God to leprosy-affected people around the world, helping and healing those who have suffered so much.