The voluntary sector in Fife lost a major player in the field this month. Mary Ray, former Volunteer Centre Fife Co-ordinator and latterly Training Officer, sadly passed away on Saturday 07 March after a brave struggle with Motor Neuron Disease.
Mary became manager of the North East Fife Volunteer Bureau in 1998, after a successful career in education in Angus, and remained with the changing face of the organisation until her retirement in 2010.
Anyone who came into contact with Mary in her work will remember a small person with a determined character and a kind, caring “larger than life” personality. She always remembered to mark birthdays and other significant dates with cards, flowers and other thoughtful gifts. Mary was a skilled pianist and shared her love of music with many and she could cook a mean curry too!
Her background in education made her the perfect person to assist small and large organisations to develop strategies and policies for building their group and to ensure that volunteers were well supported, their potential fully realised and their contribution duly recognised. Under Mary's leadership voluntary groups were highlighted in the press almost on a weekly basis and new organisations were nurtured in partnership with VONEF (now Fife Voluntary Action). She relentlessly fought the rights of the volunteer and promoted volunteering opportunities whenever she could to convince those in local or national government of the importance they have in our society. Mary devoted the latter part of her working life to delivering training to local groups in an effort to drive up standards and many Fife groups will attest to her skills. She was interested in the individual volunteer and was always encouraging to boost their confidence, making a point of finding imaginative ways of using their particular skills.
Following her “graduation from employment” Mary was never at a loose end and continued to support BASE, a group that she set up to give visually impaired people more social opportunities. She devoted many of her evenings to the St Andrews and Anstruther amateur musical societies as their rehearsal pianist and was thrilled to attend the recent performance of The King and I.
Mary tackled her diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease last year with her customary efficiency and bravely planned how to find practical ways to manage the symptoms of the disease. Despite this she remained outward looking, continuing to help others to the last and involving them in the activities on her bucket list.
Mary’s family would find comfort from any story that you may have. You can share your story with us by clicking here.