KIND-HEARTED customers of the 10 cafe bar in Forfar have given the greatest gift ever this Christmas – the gift of life.
Thanks to their generosity, they have brought some much-needed Christmas cheer to Forfar couple Maggie Balfour and her husband Jim Lynch.
The couple were chosen by 10 owner Alan Hampton as worthy recipients of £300 cash raised by customers wishing to purchase the distinctive bar stools which have recently been replaced.
Alan explained: “We had so many customers saying that, if we ever replaced the bar stools, they would like to buy one, so we asked for donations and raised £300.
“We were looking for someone local to gift the money to, to keep the money in the town.”
Maggie fitted the bill perfectly and the gift has brightened up what has been an extremely trying two years for the couple.
A brittle asthmatic, Maggie is very susceptible to infection and in January 2011 she suffered double pneumonia which has left her incredibly sensitive to environmental and chemical triggers.
Jim explained: “This has left her profoundly disabled and, I believe, her condition is unique globally.
“She has a condition called mast cell instability and, when outside the house, has to wear a mask which is the very best available. It is the same to those worn by people in highly toxic chemical environments.”
Because of her condition, Maggie is allergic to a whole raft of products from traffic pollution and cigarette smoke to many prescription medicines, household cleaning products, make-ups and shampoos, as well as antibiotics.
Whilst many in Forfar are now used to seeing Maggie wearing her distinctive mask when outside her house and are more sympathetic to her plight, six weeks ago someone spat on her in East High Street and she contracted the bacteria haemothilus influenzae.
This resulted in a chest infection, a deep lung infection and difficulties in the brain and, as she is allergic to antibiotics, she has really struggled.
The couple also face the financial difficulties of running the life-saving purifiers in their home, as well as sourcing alternative remedies from around the globe to try to fight the infection.
The couple are also footing the bill for treatment from a private Scottish Homeopathic GP.
They have received support from the air purification manufacturer in Sweden, as well as Scottish and Southern Energy plc. for the “life critical” electrical supply which comes courtesy of a dedicated generator.
Jim continued: “This money from ‘10’ is such a timely boost.
“We had to liquidate our Christmas fund. This will go far to help cover our Christmas expenses.
“After 23 months Maggie and I are exhausted and greatly in need of financial and other ‘helps’ from our public sector to match the commitments already made by the private sector globally.”
Presenting the money on Wednesday, bar manageress Mairi Docherty said: “I wasn’t aware of Jim or of Maggie’s condition, but having met them and hearing what Maggie has to cope with, it’s wonderful that we have been able to make a difference.
“Hopefully more people will be made aware of Maggie’s condition and I would hope they would be a bit more understanding.”