Morven-May MacCallum is an author and active patient advocate for Lyme disease and well-loved member of the Lyme disease patient community. Morven-May has spent this summer touring events in Scotland, raising awareness of Lyme disease whereever she goes! We caught up with Morven-May to find out what she has been up to and hear about the people (and dogs!) she met on her travels…..
“I’ve been searching for a word to sum up the summer and the only word I can think of….is extraordinary! I feel very humbled to get stand within the stall, full of my books (Finding Joy and Keeping Joy), tick removers, repellents, leaflets and information cards and to listen to your brave experiences of surviving this disease.
I have had Lyme disease for over sixteen years and I have, since regaining bits of my health back, dedicated my time to raising awareness of Lyme disease by writing books, articles, giving talks in school, literary events, festivals and by speaking on TV and radio. I also travel around to various events, around Scotland, to speak to people about Lyme disease.
Over the summer months, I have pitched up the gazebo at a multitude of events across Scotland. We have set up the table and stood behind it to speak to thousands of people. Some of whom have Lyme disease, some who know others who are ill with it, some who are simply curious and some who need a little coaxing to come forward to learn more.
The first event of the season was Belladrum, a festival in the heart of the Highlands. Belladrum has more than 25k people in attendance and this year marks our fifth year of awareness raising at this event. We had a great time speaking to families, teenagers, and music revellers or all ages. Over the course of the three-day festival, I lost count of the number of people we spoke to but it’s safe to say that my voice was all but lost by the end of it. We were very lucky in that we got the best of the summer weather at Belladrum and the sunshine brought out the best of all who basked in it.
Our next event was Moy Country Fair. Moy has a very different audience to Belladrum and it was fantastic to have the opportunity to reach a new audience to raise awareness too. Moy Games is the majestic land of tweed and country life. With Game Keepers, Stalkers, Gillies, Estate Managers and owners – as well as the general public. It was a privilege to attend and to speak to so many people who have been profoundly affected by Lyme disease and to hear of their experiences and of their challenges of working outdoors in and amongst ticks.
It was wonderful to reunite with the Scottish Game Keepers Association – a wonderful organisation who have had me as their keynote speaker at their previous AGM. They do a huge amount of work to raise awareness of Lyme disease within their community and beyond it. Our pitch, this year, was opposite the beer tent and getting to listen to the live music inside it created a great atmosphere. We weren’t quite so lucky in the weather though and, just as it came time to pack away the gazebo, we were caught by the downpour of rain. It’s safe to say we had a very soggy drive home!
A week later, we were off again to our next event…Nairn Highland Games. The Nairn Highland Games was a first of us and it was an incredible one-day event – which had the atmosphere of a festival and all the fun and rides of a beach town gathering. We were very glad to have our reinforced guy ropes for this event. The sun shone with the same intensity as the gusts of winds, which intermittently had us grabbing the legs of the gazebo for fear it might fly off.
There was a huge turnout for the Nairn Games and a great interest in learning about Lyme disease. From what people were telling us, there is, like so many other places, a rising number of ticks in the area. I met some incredibly inspiring people, who have Lyme disease and, the hugs I received from some of them was an added bonus and a great boost to help to keep our weary legs and hoarse voices going. We were very lucky, to have the most wonderful people in the stall next to us and who, seeing that we were tiring and struggling, helped us to take down our gazebo and to pack the car. The kindness of others never fails to astound me.
Our last event of the summer was short and… soggy! Glen Urquhart Highland Games was set to be a wonderful event. We travelled up the night before and set up the gazebo in the pouring rain before heading back home and drying off. When we woke up in the morning, it was to learn that the games had had to be called off due to the flooding and the risk of people being injured. So we set off once again to go and collect our very wet gazebo and to hang it up in the garage to try and dry it out. This was the first time the games had ever been cancelled and the first time one of our events had been called off but we are very much looking forward to returning next year…hopefully in nicer weather!
It’s safe to say, that after a very hectic summer of events, we are ready for a rest but what a privilege it is to represent LDUK and to speak to so many people, to teach as well as learn from those who come to our stall. I must give my thanks to all at LDUK who help and support me to do these events, to the wonderful people at Botanic Protect and to my mother… who helps set up, speak to people, allows me to have bathroom breaks, who helps take set everything up and take it down, who drives me to and from event and who helps me in more ways than I can possibly say.”
A huge thank you from LDUK to Morven and her mum! It is wonderful to hear of your adventures in awareness raising this summer. Who knows how many infections you may have prevented with all your conversations and displaying information at that these events!