LDUK’s Morven-May MacCallum headed to the Scottish Parliament following First Minister’s Questions to host a photo call to raise awareness of Lyme disease, sponsored by Alexander Burnett MSP. Below is Morven-May’s write up of the event! A big thank you to Morven-May, to Alexander Burnett and to all the MSPs who took part in this awareness raising opportunity.
It was a true pleasure to be asked by Lyme Disease UK to organise an event in Scotland for Lyme disease awareness month. I really wanted to achieve something that would get media attention, support from MSPs and to acknowledge what those with Lyme disease endure. I bandied around several ideas for various events but none would fit within the timeframe we had been given; then the perfect idea came forward for a photo call in the Scottish Parliament!
I immediately set about submitting the necessary forms and gaining permission from various people. I then wrote the invites to send out to all 129 MSPs. I created a post which I put out on various social media sites asking people to please copy and paste a mock email I’d created to encourage their MPS to attend the event and I was so pleased and encouraged by the fantastic people who took up the task – a huge thank you to you all. I travelled down a few days in advance so that I could recover from the exertion of travelling and with the professional camera, a family member generously allowed me to borrow, leaflets from LDUK and information sheets for the MSPs to take away…I was all set.
In the days before the event, I called all 129 MSPs to remind and encourage them to come to the photo call. With most MSPs replying with a ‘maybe’, I could only guess at how many would actually stay after First Minister’s Questions to participate in the photo call.
On the 17th of May, I woke in a panic, certain that I was late. In a mad rush, I headed out the door and to the Parliament…it was only then that I realised that I was having one of those pesky Lyme moments and the watch I’d been constantly checking wasn’t reading the time that my brain was telling me it was reading and so I was over an hour early! Enthusiastic as I was for the event…that extra hour in bed would have been bliss. I decided to go to a really nice café opposite the Parliament and sit in the sun with a soothing cup of tea – which calmed my nerves set me up nicely for heading into the Parliament to set up.
Thankfully, everyone in the Parliament is wonderfully helpful and kind. Within a short time, we were all set up and ready to go for when FMQs ended and the MSPs gathered together for the photo call. I was astounded by how many MSPs stayed to be in the photo call – I remember looking up at the stairs and of the Garden Lobby Steps and just seeing a sea of people stretching on and on. Around 70 MSPs, and four out of five of the party leaders, took part superseding all my hopes and expectations. All those hours and hours of phone calls and emails had actually paid off!
I was so pleased that Janey Cringean from Tick-Borne Illness Campaign Scotland turned up on the day as it was nice to have a friendly face amongst the crowd and for her to get to be in the pictures too. I enjoyed the opportunity to take the pictures for the group shots. Then, I has the opportunity to take individual pictures and speak about various issues regarding Lyme disease with the MSPs who generously gave their time to stay behind after the main photo call.
What an incredible day, I kept thinking in disbelief as I packed up and, having thanked the organisers in Parliament for all their help, I headed home filled with the sense that something wonderful had just occurred!