In honour of William ‘Bill’ Moran: the devoted heart of the community

Bill Moran, a familiar face in the Dumfries town centre for his weekly fundraising collections for disability charity Leonard Cheshire, died on Friday on Friday 10 July at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary.

An older man in shirt and blazer in his wheelchair at an award ceremony

At the grand age of 88, Bill – who was one of the charity’s most decorated volunteers – worked tirelessly to bring in funds to support local disabled people to lead independent lives in the community. Bill leave us brimming with accolades – a legacy of good will towards his fellow human beings and a great loss to his family and all who knew him.

Born in Dublin in 1932, Bill was the second eldest of a family of three sisters and two brothers. After displaying great academic ability at school, he attended the prestigious Blackrock College before realising priesthood wasn’t his true vocation. 

He then moved to London to begin a career in management in the building industry during which time he met the love of his life Margaret and they were married in 1964. 

After a highly successful career and a move to Scotland, Bill eventually retired and settled in Dumfries.

Sadly, Margaret passed away in 2002 but Bill kept himself busy, skilfully crafting large wooden rocking horses – one of which he named ‘Maggie’ after his late wife and was donated to the children’s ward at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary where it remains today to give young patients endless hours of fun.

Bill was introduced to Leonard Cheshire’s Volunteer Coordinator in Dumfries and was so enamoured by the work of the organisation that he immediately signed up to be a fundraising volunteer – saying: “I’m not sure what to do but I’ll give it a go”.

From there, he was active in Dumfries town centre, local supermarkets and neighbouring towns raising awareness for the charity and using his Irish charm to receive donations.

He was a people person – always interacting with children, shy or excited, by giving and receiving ‘high-fives’ so children saw that he was ‘a cool Gramps’. It was in Annan one lunchtime that a group of secondary school pupils emptied all their pocket money into his collection can. On another day, a small boy in Dalbeattie walked up to Bill while he was on collection duty and spent an hour by his side “just to keep him company”.

Bill was out in the local community rain or shine, and the public were not only supportive of the charity but also him as an individual. He was always reminded to prepare for the Scottish ‘four seasons in one day’, but often the public would come to the rescue. People would offer him bottled water and a sun hat in the rare heat, or tea and sandwiches when the rain poured.

Bill’s devotion to those he loved and to the work of Leonard Cheshire went beyond his presence on the streets and in the supermarkets. He also relished the camaraderie of meetings with fellow volunteers, always eager to find out what exciting projects were happening next within the charity and showing great support.

Bill would have been out there volunteering every day for Leonard Cheshire if possible. While wary of deteriorating health, Bill would respond when asked if he wanted to continue: “Well, my kidney function is getting low, my eyesight is worse, my arthritis is quite painful at times and I always need my wheelchair to get around – but apart from that, I’m fine!”

Bill’s daughter, Lucy, said:

“My father was a man of intense passion for family; so generous to others, he couldn’t do enough for people. He was very active and well known, zooming around town on his electric wheelchair – he really loved what he did with Leonard Cheshire.”

Bill shied away from gratitude but was persuaded to attend a Leonard Cheshire Community Award Ceremony at the City Chambers in Edinburgh – an occasion to acknowledge the incredible work of the organisation’s volunteers in Scotland – where his supreme contribution was recognised.

The continuous smile on his face that day was indicative of his affable personality. Locally too, Bill’s amazing efforts were noticed when he was awarded the Dumfries & Galloway Life’s Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Volunteering. 

Bill Milven, the charity’s Volunteer Coordinator in Dumfries, said: 

“During his eight-year involvement with Leonard Cheshire, Bill raised well over £15,000 across 150 collections.

"Along with our other amazing volunteers, Bill’s legacy will be a commitment to improving the lives of disabled people, enabling our residents to complete day trips locally and beyond, pursue a range of activities, access technology to keep them connected in the digital age and attend the theatre. Bill’s fundraising made so many opportunities possible – and he will never be forgotten.”

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