Diamond celebrations

A well-known Forfar couple, who have dedicated the last 20 years of their lives to broadcasting to hospital patients, celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary last Wednesday.

Ann and Allan Collins, who are originally from Falkirk, were introduced by a mutual friend in April 1951 and were married in the December.

They then moved to Edinburgh, Australia, London and Lanark before settling in Forfar.

Before the closure of Sunnyside Royal Hospital last month Allan (80) and Ann (79) were the disc jockeys of the hospital radio station, providing their own inimitable enthusiasm and playing music to patients for 20 years.

Their dedication to the service and the joy they brought to patients was recognised in 2004 at a glittering awards ceremony in Edinburgh when they were nominated for the Volunteers Award in the Scottish Health Awards.

The couple worked as a team with Allan spinning the discs and Ann, a former nurse, getting the older dementia patients up for a dance.

Allan also encouraged the younger mental health patients to take part in producing the shows and to talk on air.

They first got involved as volunteers at Sunnyside Royal Hospital when Allan retired from his career in sales and marketing. His first foray into volunteering was as a driver with the Forfarian bus before he became co-ordinator.

He first cut his teeth in the radio studio in the Royal Navy and continued in the 1960s when he had his own radio show whilst living in Australia. The couple moved to Forfar in 1968 and on Allan’s retirement in 1990 they both became involved in hospital radio. As well as his stint as a D.J., Allan is also known through his work as voluntary driver for Sunnyside Hospital and the Macmillan centre at Stracathro, as well as being national secretary of the Submariners’ Association.

Ann and Allan also toured round numerous nursing homes, hospital and sheltered housing complexes with their mobile unit providing music for numerous events in Montrose, Brechin, Arbroath, Forfar and Kirriemuir.

The couple are still active and only recently Allan walked up Lochnagar - but in true fashion was back in the radio station by 9 am the next day!