Stewart Livingstone from our leadership talent and learning team in Manchester’s support centre, was invited to a very special party yesterday  – with Her Majesty the Queen.

He was invited to the Queen’s Garden Party at Holyrood House in recognition of his volunteering with Cathleen’s Cabin, a small and little known charity in Dunoon in Scotland.

Cathleen’s Cabin is a three bedroom static caravan that’s offered to families who need a break  – either because they’ve suffered a bereavement or have children with life limiting illnesses.  It’s kitted out with books, games, and a Nintendo Wii, and in the park’s grounds there’s a wooden play fort, rope swings, a pool and sports facilities. It’s the perfect break for families that wouldn’t usually be able to afford a holiday.
The charity was set up by a lady called Maddie who was inspired by her own family holidays, and the memories of how much happiness they brought her parents and siblings.

Here’s Stewart’s volunteering story in his own words:

From the moment I met Lyn from Volunteering Matters and Maddie and Karen from Cathleen’s Cabin, I knew that it was a great fit and really wanted to help.  Maddie was just full of love and I couldn’t help but feel a connection – she’s got this great ability to laugh at herself which I found really endearing.  I remember the one thing she said which has always stuck with me, “Maddie by name, maddie by nature!”

The first thing I did for them was create an induction for the volunteers who greeted the families at Cathleen’s Cabin.  I also created a leaflet for the families, to give them information about the caravan and the surrounding area.

I knew that there was so much more that I could do with support from the Co-op too. I contacted their local store and found out the manager was someone I’d worked with years before in a previous job (Stuart Fowler).  I explained about the charity and how we’d like to give a grocery basket to the families that moved in, which Stuart kindly agreed to do.

Stuart also suggested that we sign the charity up to be one of our local causes supported by our membership scheme, so they could benefit from the 1% that members could allocate to local causes, from buying own brand products and services. I helped Maddie to put in the application and it was accepted, so currently our members in and around Dunoon are raising funds through buying Co-op own brand products.  So far, they’ve raised £765.73 which also includes the money from the carrier bag levy.

It’s been a fantastic experience working with a really worthwhile charity, and Maddie.  I’m extremely proud and humble that I’ve been recognised as part of this, and get to attend the Queen’s Garden Party at Holyrood Palace.  I volunteered as I wanted to help, and wouldn’t have even thought about being recognised for it.

If you’re interested in volunteering, please email:

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. You sure have made an enormous difference to Cathleen’s Cabin. We are getting rave reviews from the families about the food baskets, especially when having travelled a distance with a very ill or traumatised child/children, to realise you don’t have to immediately go get shopping in. Fresh fruit and veg and a couple of dinners and some sweeties thrown in (well a holiday would not be a holiday without a treat)

    Yes Stewart its a good job I can laugh at myself, did you see that pink witches hat, it looks like something out of a Benny Hill show, but it will make the weans giggle.

    Big thanks to the COOP for all it does for us. Stuart Fowler was like you a dream to meet and so encouraging as is the new manager Ryan and his team of friendly hardworking staff.

    Yes indeed the COOP has made such an amazing difference and because we know you have already collected this money it means we can get the composite decking we needed for our heavy electric wheelchairs THIS summer . (Yes I know we will get paid this later in the year but we can work things out one way or another, tickety boo).

    It was great to spend some quality time with Stewart at the Queen palace at Holyrood, we met some amazing people who will be a great resource to Cathleen’s Cabin. Thanks to Volunteer Matters for linking Cathleen’s Cabin with Stewart and the COOP.

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