Charity champion Drena steps down after 30 years

Drena is pictured, centre standing, with some of the many guests at her retiral party and presentation
Drena is pictured, centre standing, with some of the many guests at her retiral party and presentation

One of Deafblind Scotland’s most dedicated supporters has retired after almost 30 years at the forefront of the charity.

But its Initiatives Officer, Lenzie woman Drena O’Malley, has no intention of giving up helping to improve the lives of people with sight and hearing difficulties.

She told the Herald: “I’ve stepped down but I’m definitely not stepping away”.

Drena has been the driving force behind the new £1.5 million purpose-built learning and development centre for Deafblind people on the outskirts of Lenzie.

The building, on the site nicknamed “Field of Dreams” is almost complete after more than 10 years of tireless work by volunteers.

Now Drena has her sights set on raising money to give users of the new centre the additional support they need.

Three months ago, she set up Drena’s Guide Communicator Fund and has already raised more than £3,500.

She said: “Guide communicators are higly skilled professional individuals who are trained to be the eyes and ears of a deafblind person.

“They can help with very individual situations and will aid users who we hope will be able to come from all over Scotland”.

Drena added: “Local people have been amazing. I can’t thank them enough for everything. Without their support it would have been very difficult to make the this all happen”.

She added: “It’s important they keep on supporting us. We can’t do this alone”.

Almost 100 people attended her retiral party in the new building last Wednesday.

Drena said: “It was a great day. I’m going to enjoy being a volunteer now, fundraising and doing what I want to do.”

She started work as a Liaison Officer with National Deafblind League, based in Peterborough, in 1989, and established the Scottish office very soon afterwards, raising the money to buy their accommodation in Lenzie and rising to become chief executive before standing down from that role in 2007.

At her party, the much loved charity officer was showered with cards and the gift of a sum of money.

In true Drena style, she said she would be putting the cash into her new Guide Communicator fund and added: “I hope people don’t mind!”