This year Erskine is celebrating 100 years of service to men and women from the armed forces injured in active service.

Appropriately enough, therefore, the Bridge of Allan and Dunblane Rotary Club had invited Karen McBeath, fundraiser for Erskine, to speak about its history.

Following early recognition of the need to provide for casualties, particularly following the 1916 offensives of World War One, Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria, gifted Mar House as a hospital for these casualties. Initially named the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers, by October 1919, 5,552 patients had been admitted, of which 5,250 had been fitted with artificial limbs. Many of these limbs were shaped in wood from willow trees taken from the local area.

From this beginning Erskine emerged, and has been continuously caring for service men and women who have been injured in conflict. Close to Mar House, which had become unsuitable, the first purpose-built Erskine Care Home was constructed. The caring work undertaken there was subsequently extended by the establishment of three further Care Homes located in Bishopton, Edinburgh and Glasgow. To date, these Homes have supported some 85,000 veterans.

As Karen explained: “We have a real commitment to providing quality care in a homely environment”. While care remains the cornerstone of Erskine’s philosophy, it does much more, providing centres of care excellence, where modern facilities are complemented by the professionalism of staff. So, in addition to its main function of providing nursing care in a residential setting, Erskine can provide various forms of support including physiotherapy, speech and language support, recreation, counselling and respite care.

Erskine now has 339 beds across its four care homes, with individual rooms all of which are well-proportioned and tastefully decorated, and have pleasant views of the landscaped gardens. The residents are encouraged to bring personal belongings and mementos to help them feel more at home. In addition to the provision in the main buildings, Erskine has built 44 purpose-designed cottages where families can be accommodated.

In addition to its professional services, Erskine seeks to ensure the happiness of all residents in its Homes. As an example of the attention to enhanced care, Erskine

provides a Wishing Tree where requests by individuals for particular outings can be made. This can be to a particular location, or for a specific purpose, for example, a trip to the seaside with a fish supper included. Staff make every effort to meet these requests, support which is greatly appreciated.

But, as Karen revealed, all this comes at considerable cost: the overall running costs of the four centres is £23 million each year. The majority of this comes from grants and contributions, but Erskine still has to find £9 million - £173,00 each week - from its own efforts, a considerable challenge. While, within its own premises, Erskine operates The Street, a commercial centre including a shop, hairdressing and other facilities, and a commercial garden centre, there remains a major challenge to raise the balance of funds needed.

Erskine’s contribution to service personnel over 100 years was recognized in June of this year by a Service of Commemoration at Glasgow Cathedral attended by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne.

Speaker’s Host, David Mackie, himself a veteran of the Atlantic and Artic convoys in the Second World War, spoke of the important contribution by Erskine in supporting ex-servicemen. He was joined by members in thanking Karen for an informative and illuminating talk.

There will be a meeting on October 13 in the Westlands Hotel, Doune Road, at 6pm for 6.30pm. This will provide a welcome return by Ken Reid, himself registered blind, who will report on his sponsored 750-mile cycle ride in support of Talking Books. Visitors are always very welcome to meetings.

Anyone interested in attending should contact the club secretary, Iain Fraser at or call 01786 822751.

More information can be found on the club website at