1106. Fiona Macdonald
Fiona MacDonald, from Arisaig, Inverness-shire, is an opera singer and founder of the ‘Bravehound’ initiative, which matches veterans with companion dogs to support their rehabilitation and provide therapy for those diagnosed with PTSD.
‘Bravehound’ re-homes dogs from animal welfare charities, trains veterans in pet care, and provides insurance, feeding and equipment for the full length of the dog’s life. It was voted as the UK’s best voluntary project at the 2017 National Lottery Awards and is a finalist in the 2019 Soldiering On Awards. Fiona also founded and runs ‘Glen Art’, a charity that helps people from military backgrounds return to civilian life through artistic events. Fiona was inspired to set up the charity in memory of her great aunt, a nurse killed on a hospital ship in 1918, and from regularly performing at commemoration concerts and events for military charities. ‘Glen Art’ has run a number of events to mark the centenary of the First World War, and supported ‘Theatre of War’ productions in 2015 and 2018, which invited veterans and serving paratroopers to watch performances of Greek tragedies to help facilitate conversations around PTSD and help remove the stigma associated with PTSD.
Fiona was presented with her award by Maurice Corry MSP, convener of the cross-party group in the Scottish Parliament on Armed Forces and Veterans Community.
In a personal letter to Fiona, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“Drawing on your own family’s history, you have dedicated yourself to supporting veterans and their families when they need it most. With your ‘Bravehound’ initiative, you have developed an innovative project that is having a truly positive effect on the lives of those veterans affected by PTSD. Through ‘Glen Art’ you have also produced a creative and moving way of supporting our Armed Forces. I wish you every success with your continued work.”
Maurice Corry MSP said:
“Fiona Macdonald has done an outstanding job for our veterans in founding and running Bravehound. Fiona has worked tirelessly with this organisation, which has successfully helped many veterans who have PTSD through rehabilitation and therapy. Through her work she has literally saved the lives of veterans who have been helped by Bravehound and their dogs. Her excellent work continues to do this as Bravehound expands its support to our veterans today.”
“I am incredibly honoured to have been chosen by the Prime Minister for a Point of Light Award. Through ‘Glen Art’ and now ‘Bravehound’ we have commemorated many events and the lives of individuals who lived and died during the First World War. We believe that honouring the memory of those who died a hundred years ago is best achieved by supporting veterans of today and we are so proud to provide ‘Bravehound’ dogs and to organise social and artistic events for the veterans we serve, it’s such a privilege to work with such incredible people and I’m delighted to accept this award on behalf of all of the ‘Bravehound’ team.”