Live Aid was catalyst for Scottish solicitors to band together for Will Aid in 1988
For anyone who was around in the 1980s, Live Aid was an incredibly motivating event.
Spearheaded by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to help combat the famine in Ethiopa, Saturday, July 13, 1985, was the music event of the century.
Watched by 1.9 billion people, the global movement also inspired a generation.
And that included a group of Scottish solicitors who, having watched the concerts at Wembley and the JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, wanted to do something in a similar vein to help.
In 1988 Will Aid was launched to do just that.
Sadly, the names of the solicitors who first banded together have been lost in the annals of history.
But their ambition to raise money for charities, to help people both in the UK and abroad, has grown from strength to strength.
In the intervening years, Will Aid has become a UK-wide initiative, raising £19 million in the last 30 years.
In 2017 alone, it raised more than £1 million for the vital work of its charity partners – ActionAid, Age UK, the British Red Cross, Christian Aid, NSPCC, Save the Children, Sightsavers, SCIAF (Scotland) and Trocaire (Northern Ireland).
And it is hoped a record amount can be raised to mark the 30th anniversary.
Peter de Vena Franks, campaign director, said: “It all started in Scotland after a group of solicitors, having watched Live Aid, wanted to do something to help.
“They wanted to use their skills to raise money for charity and came up with the innovative idea of writing wills for free, asking instead for a donation to be split among their chosen charities.
“Sadly, we don’t have their names on record but we do know they raised thousands of pounds that first year.
“Will Aid has been held every November since but has grown to include the whole of the UK.
“How it works hasn’t changed though – people are asked to donate £95 for an individual will or £150 for two mirror wills, drawn up by participating solicitors.
“Since 1998, Will Aid has raised a phenomenal £19 million in donations from more than 300,000 wills.
“But it has actually raised many, many millions more in legacies left in people’s wills for our charities.
“We’re hoping to make a record amount in 2018 as we celebrate our 30th year.”
Some 800 solicitors across the UK are taking part, 177 of them in Scotland.
But Peter hopes even more firms will sign up.
He said: “Our biggest challenge is getting enough solicitors on board.
“We’re very grateful for the loyalty shown by firms who take part every year.
“We know it’s a real commitment for them to give up time in their already very busy schedules and it means a great deal to us.
“But every year we receive more enquiries from the public than we can fulfil.
“So we’d be delighted to hear from firms who would be willing to sign up. There’s still time to take part!”
More than 50 per cent of the adult UK population have not yet made a will.
If you are among that number and would like to take part in Will Aid 2018, it’s a simple process.
Peter added: “All people have to do is visit our website and type in their postcode.
“With 177 solicitors in Scotland already signed up, hopefully there will be a participating firm in travelling distance.
“If so, simply call the firm directly and ask to make a Will Aid appointment.
“It’s as easy as that to join the Will Aid family.”
McClure Solicitors, which has offices in Greenock, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, is celebrating its 15th year with Will Aid.
Last year, it raised the second highest amount in the UK and it is aiming to take pole position this year.
But the firm is unique in that it offers a free will-writing service year-round, in return for donations to a charity of people’s choice.
In the first nine months of this year alone, McClure’s amassed £33 million for charity from its will-writing services, the bulk of which came from legacies.
Andrew Robertson (71), the firm’s managing director, said: “Undoubtedly, November is our busiest month thanks to Will Aid.
“Everyone should have a will and most people know that, but they need a wee bit of encouragement to do it.
“I only got mine done because my wife got hers!
“From a business point of view, it makes sense for us to offer wills free of charge because we offer a range of paid for services which they may be interested in too.
“Half of the people who come to us come to have a will written and that’s it but the other half take one of our paid services too.
“Last year, we raised the second highest amount for Will Aid – this year, we’re hoping to be number one.
“It makes staff feel good, knowing that they’re helping charities as well as clients.”
As for why people should make a will, Andrew added: “People think it’s all going to go to their children anyway so there’s no point.
“But if you don’t have a will, you can’t be sure where your estate is going and it can cost your family time, money and heartache.”
To find out more about Will Aid or to sign up, visit www.willaid.org.uk.
The perfect time to make your will
In Scotland, 53 per cent of the adult population have yet to make a will. Of those who do have a will, some 77 per cent put their trust in a solicitor to oversee their final wishes.
In Scotland, turning a milestone age, a death in the family and purchasing a house were the main catalysts for a will.
The majority of people who have a will in Scotland wanted to pass on savings and/or investments (78.21%), followed by items of sentimental value (55.13%), valuables such as jewellery, art and antiques (43.59%) and life insurance (38.46%).
The main reason for people not having a will in Scotland was not getting round to it (42.86%).
Will Aid aims to encourage more people to get their affairs in order and think about leaving a legacy to charity too.
James Tarleton, chair of Will Aid, said: “This year’s statistics show that, even after three decades, there is still a need for this campaign and to encourage more people to make their will.
“Not only does making your will through Will Aid provide peace of mind, but the nine partner charities use the donations and legacies to reach people in crisis, both here in the UK and around the world.
“Many people who make wills through Will Aid also support charities through a gift in their will. These legacies make a great difference and we are very thankful for that support.”