A former Lang Toun Lad is taking part in a ‘Sleep in the Park’ fundraiser to support a charity he and his wife are both passionate about.
Ritchie and Lora Wilson, who first met when they were nominated for the roles of Lang Toun Lad and Lass in Kirkcaldy in 1970/71, are hoping to raise at least £1000 for homeless project Social Bites by supporting the event on December 9 in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh.
With a little persuasion from Lora (65), Ritchie has agreed to sleep rough, along with several other thousand brave volunteers, on a cold Scottish winter’s night, to raise awareness and cash to help Scotland’s homeless.
Ritchie (66), who is retired, said: “We were Lad and Lass in 1970 carrying out our official duties, fundraising for local hospitals and other local good causes by attending events throughout our year, including officiating at the Remembrance Sunday Memorial Service, and also leading the pageant/carnival parades for that year and many other duties.
“In 1971 we were the retiring Lad and Lass and continued to carry out official duties and fundraising alongside the new Lad and Lass.
“Towards the end of our second year and outwith our official duties, we began going out as friends and became a couple later that year. We were engaged in 1972 and married in September 1973. We believe, we were only one of two or three couples who met as Lad and Lass and went on to get married.”
From the early 1990’s Ritchie worked with the long term unemployed and in 1996 started working for Lauder College (now Fife College) as a tutor delivering employability programmes which led to Ritchie developing a programme called ‘Next Steps’.
This included people who had been homeless and had complex needs and issues.
It became apparent, whilst working in this field that more needed to be done to help homeless 18-24 year olds with varied issues and to this end, Ritchie joined ‘Clued Up’ as a homeless development worker, supporting these young people (from throughout Fife) who were either homeless or living in hostels with intensive one to one support.
Ritchie said: “From working with homelessness and the many issues surrounding it for over 20 years now, I’ve developed a real passion to do as much as I can to help.
“Those include everyone from the long term unemployed to people with mental health issues and addictions, through to people who have simply fallen on bad times.
“From time to time, I also provide intensive one to one support to individuals who find themselves homeless or having to sleep rough and it’s tough to listen to their stories, so I’m determined to do what I can to help.”
Lora, who works part time for Fife Council, said: “When Ritchie and I were selected to be Lad and Lass back in 1970, one of the first things that drew us together was our shared ambition to fundraise for local hospitals.
“The fundraising bug has never left us and since then, we’ve been involved in so many different fundraising events over the years.
“Ritchie is on track to achieve his £1000+ target and expects to set a new target. To this end, his just giving page will remain open until April 2018. It is very much a team effort including very generous family, friends and colleagues.”
She added: “I’m very proud of Ritchie for taking part in ‘Sleep in the Park’ and hoping with generous support, we can achieve our target of raising over £1000 for this very worthy cause.”
To make a donation, visit Ritchie’s just giving page at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ritchiewilson