AFTER witnessing the first turf of children's hospice Rachel House being cut, Crossgates woman Babs Anderson has seen the charity meet a range of milestones in her 20-plus years with CHAS.

The Associate Nurse Director retired at the end of December with mixed emotions after a varied career with the organisation.

Having spent 24 years in Kinross and fulfilled a total of six different roles, she said CHAS will always have a special place in her heart.

"I started as part of the original Care Team at Rachel House all the way back, in February 1996, and was there when the Princess Royal cut the ribbon and opened the doors in June 1996," she explained.

"I vividly remember attending a public meeting before the House was built – which was to explain what a Children’s Hospice would mean to the community – and instantly thinking to myself ‘I really want to be part of that!’ We were so nervous and excited on our first day. It was all so new and we were in uncharted territory.

"Since those days, I have spent a huge part of my career working for CHAS. The amazing experiences and opportunities afforded to me have made my time here very special. I have been lucky enough to travel the length and breadth of the UK and beyond — from Shetland and Orkney, to Belfast and Bournemouth, on to Copenhagen and Montreal!"

When Rachel House developed a Home Care team to cope with expanding demand across Scotland back in 2000, Babs was eager to bring her knowledge to the team and the service developed into what is now CHAS at Home.

After qualifying as a specialist practitioner in Palliative Care in 2006, she became the Depute Head of Care at Rachel House while continuing to support the CHAS at Home team.

She was then appointed as the first Director of CHAS at Home and developed teams in Rachel House, Robin House, Inverness and introduced a whole new team to cover the north east of Scotland.

In 2014, she moved on to develop quality and care assurance before taking on a new role, that of Clinical Support Lead, in 2018.

As well as carrying out her day job, Babs also managed to find time to take part in many of the events put on to raise vital funds for CHAS.

"Over the years I volunteered at fundraising events like Beat the Borders, the Rob Roy challenge and a dog show in Aberdeen! I have also participated in a fair few fundraising events including three Kiltwalks and the Bubble Run," she said.

"One of the most challenging I can remember was the Speyside Kiltwalk in 2014. I slowed down to walk the last mile with a complete stranger who was struggling to finish. In a small world coincidence, it turned out she was related to a CHAS parent.

"I feel very privileged to have been part of CHAS from the very beginning and have worked with some of the most inspiring people I have ever met, both families and staff.

"Although I look forward to my retirement, I will very much miss being part of the team, both at Rachel House and CHAS more broadly. CHAS will always hold a very special place in my heart, however I will become part of the alumni programme and will continue to support the charity for many years to come.

"As the next chapter of the CHAS plan begins, I will look on with great interest to see the path Rami Okasha, will lead the charity on when he takes up the Chief Executive post in 2020. We’ve come a long way since Philip Schofield cut the first turf at Rachel House, but there will always work to be done!"