By Claire Drummond, head of charitable giving for Aberdeen Standard Investments
“It’s the people who make the place.”
This phrase came to mind when I attended the official opening of the redeveloped garden at CLAN Cancer Support’s house in Aberdeen.
It’s a project which is close to the hearts of my Aberdeen Standard Investments colleagues as the sensory garden area has been named after colleague Suzanne McKechnie Skinner, who died from cancer in 2015.
She understood the benefits which CLAN house offered her and her loved ones at the difficult time. The garden will add to the facilities which CLAN house offers. Suzanne would have been very touched and honoured to have this garden named after her however knowing Suzanne she would be even more pleased with the fact the garden is going to benefit others at times when they are feeling low.
As a company, we gave a five-figure sum towards this collaborative project which has created a user-friendly space and includes a large variety of flowers and plants to stimulate the senses, alongside seating areas, a water feature and pathways for use by people with cancer, their family and visitors.
Aberdeen Standard Investments support runs deeper than the monetary donation made. The Charitable Foundation funding certainly enabled the purchase of materials and appointment of contractors to carry out the major works; however, our employees got behind the project too. A team headed out of the office for a gardening session where they planted, watered and tended the flowers and shrubs. They joined with CLAN garden volunteers in making the all-important finishing touches, and the garden looked magnificent at the official opening in September.
Having been involved behind the scenes for many months, being part of the consultations and planning, it was pleasing the sun shone and the garden looked stunning for the gathering of the charity’s and ASI’s, colleagues, friends and supporters.
Hugh Little, who was head of acquisitions at Aberdeen Asset Management (as Aberdeen Standard Investments was called at the time) until his retirement in 2015 and who currently chairs CLAN Cancer Support, acknowledged the value of the support of his former employer and colleagues.
Performing the opening, Mr Little commented: “This project has extra significance for the team at Aberdeen Standard Investments as their involvement is also in memory of a much-loved and well-respected colleague. Suzanne McKechnie Skinner was supported by CLAN during 2015 following a breast cancer diagnosis but sadly she passed away in November of that year. We are delighted that members of Suzanne’s family are here to see the finished garden.
“Thank you to the CLAN team behind the project, the garden volunteers who helped from the outset to keep the garden looking its best and the many organisations involved from start to finish.”
Aberdeen Standard Investments encourage employees to volunteer for charitable projects and we’re already planning dates for colleagues to return and assist in continuing with the general maintenance. All permanent employees are provided with three days volunteer leave per annum, a chance for them to give a working day on full pay to assist with charitable projects which enhance the value of our financial contributions as well as actively supporting local communities where we operate.
It fosters a sense of team spirit and through working on these projects, community connections are made, and wider benefits are created too, in the case of the CLAN garden, a stimulating outside space for cancer patients and their families to spend time in and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Suzanne’s parents feel the garden is a wonderful tribute to their daughter, a place of peace and tranquillity, an environment that they hope will help lift the spirits of people whose lives are affected by cancer. We couldn’t agree more.
This project is true to the Charitable Foundation’s vision of enrichment through supporting and impacting local community. People, coming together, help make things happen in the places that they live and work.