Michelle Herd

Words by Peter Mitchell

The children’s charity AberNecessities is barely out of its infancy but already it has helped dozens of needy families in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire with supplies of nappies, clothes and cots.

If proof were needed of the impact it has made, I saw for myself rooms bursting with donations from the public at Craigievar House, an unused office block in the Kirkhill industrial estate at Dyce given free of charge to charities.

My guide was Michelle Herd, the part-time chief operating officer, whose position was made possible by the generosity of an old friend from her schooldays at St Joseph’s in Aberdeen, Miriam Smith, and her husband, Ian, a retired Domino’s Pizza supremo in Aberdeen. ‘They are both very valuable trustees of the charity,’ says Michelle, ‘and that is exemplified by an extraordinary gesture of support they made at Ian’s 60th birthday party. Guests were invited not to bring presents. No, bring nappies, they said. The result was staggering. No fewer than 9,000 were donated and took up most of the space in the Smith garage for a while to the exclusion of any vehicles.’

Michelle is quick to give credit to her daughter, Danielle Flecher-Horn, for providing the impetus, as a mum of Freddie (3), and Nancy (1), to alleviate the pressure on young families with limited resources. ‘AberNecessities believes every child deserves the best possible start in life,’ she says, ‘and support for our aims comes in many different guises. For example, there is a knitting group which meets in Aberdeen’s Central Library. We also had an open day at the beginning of September and 22 people turned up, keen to find out how they could help, for example, in sorting out donations and helping deliver consignments for despatch by social workers, health visitors and teachers.’

AberNecessities has also had to respond to wider needs that have been flagged up by families struggling to cope. Says Michelle, ‘We were asked if we could supply items for the bedroom such as beds, duvets, pillows and bedding and we have been fortunate to get generous discount from the local Sainsbury furniture firm in Aberdeen. We also try to give new mums toiletry bags for themselves. Another request we had was for wellies for playgroups and nurseries.’

Raising funds for the cause is another priority for Michelle who is keen to have companies choose AberNecessities as their charity for a given period. ‘We set out that intention at our launch in March and, of course, we need all the volunteers we can muster,’ she adds.

Interested? You can contact Michelle at Michelle@abernecessities.co.uk or Danielle at Danielle@abernecessities.co.uk.

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