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Founder of pioneering Highland mental health charity Mikeysline to be honoured at memorial event

By Val Sweeney

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Ron Williamson, the founder of Mikeysline, died in December.
Ron Williamson, the founder of Mikeysline, died in December.

The "incredible personality" of the founder of Highland mental health charity, Mikeysline, will be honoured at a memorial event in Inverness later this month.

The death of Ron Williamson in December, aged 74, following a long illness prompted many tributes.

A memorial event will be held on February 22 at the Glen Mhor Hotel in Inverness to which everyone is welcome.

The hour-long event will include music and a piper.

Ron helped set up Mikeysline eight years ago following the death of his nephew Michael "Mikey" Williamson (23) who died at his Inverness home in 2015 – two days after his friend, Martin Shaw, had also been found dead.

Initially it provided a text-for-help hotline service for people experiencing thoughts of depression, anxiety, worry or stress but has since expanded its work.

Ron's commitment meant a regular 600-mile drive from his home Southampton until he later handed over the reins.

Mikeysline said the memorial – which poignantly will be held on Mikey's birthday – will reflect on "the incredible personality and the vitally important legacy" Ron has left behind in Martin and Mikey's memory.

Light up the night will be led by Halde, Songs from Highland Voices and Spud the Piper will be present too.

Mikeysline chief executive Emily Stokes said Ron made a huge impression on most people who met him.

"He was not easy to forget and the impression was long-lasting," she said.

"Out of tragedy, the loss of his nephew and his nephew's good friend within 48 hours of each other in October 2015, Ron was determined to put support in place to offer hope to others and to tackle head on the issues in Highland in terms of accessible mental health support.

"Ron described himself as 'a bull in a china shop', over his approach to setting up Mikeysline but he got the results. "Within two months of Mikey and Martin passing, the first text-based support help line in the UK was formed.

"Many have followed this model since.

"But, effectively, Ron changed the landscape in mental health and suicide prevention support in Highland."

She said he stood down from actively managing Mikeysline in 2019 due to his deteriorating health but he kept a close watch and was still at the end of an email, message, phone call to volunteers and staff members, even when they least expected it!

"From the solid base formed by Ron and the overwhelming support of its community, Mikeysline has evolved and expanded rapidly over the past eight years to offer a whole new range of accessible support options and through Ron's passion, drive and initial efforts, the legacy of Mikeysline remains.

"As such, it is fitting that we take a bit of time in Inverness, where Mikeysline was born, to reflect on Ron's achievements.

"Everyone is welcome – we really hope you can join us on the evening for just one hour to remember Ron Williamson."

It will be held in the Glen Mhor Hotel's Waterside function room from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.

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