Tributes paid to Cumbernauld’s heroic disability campaigner

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A pioneering Cumbernauld woman who made a groundbreaking contribution to the life of the town has passed away.

Janet Walker, who was known to many locals as Sheena died on Tuesday, September 24, at Strathcarron Hospice

Her funeral took place on Saturday, September 28 on what would have been her 82nd birthday.

Originally from Maryhill, Sheena was a former Scotswoman of the Year, Cumbernauld Citizen of the Year twice and was also awarded the MBE.

The great-grandmother will always be remembered in the town for the difference she made to the lives of locals with a learning disability and consequently, their families.

Disability had touched her own family as her son Derek has Downs Syndrome and her late son Paul was disabled, and her bid to secure a better life for them had benefits for countless other locals

Sheena worked for the Scottish Society for the Mentally Handicapped which is now called ENABLE Scotland and managed three day care centres in the area. Following her retirement, Sheena did voluntary work.

Her former colleague William Moffat from Cumbernauld Village started work with Sheena as a YTS trainee and spent the next 17 years learing from her example. He is now a senior social worker with East Renfrewshire Council.

Now living in Glasgow’s South Side, William said he would always treasure his memories of Sheena and praised her legacy - and it was he who gave the eulogy at her funeral

He said: “Sheena’s energy was incredible. I was in awe of her. She showed that the disabled could be people and their families could be like other families. She won so many awards and yet everything she did was for other people. She did this when she had her own family commitments and touched the lives of so many people from the 1960s to just recently.’’

Ann McCulloch, of Watch Us Grow, which helps adults with a learning disability also believes that Sheena sowed the seeds of progress. She said: “Sheena was a formidable advocate and strong ally in our early days, providing support and encouragement. At times it was much needed.”

Grandaughter Victoria paid tribute to Sheena saying, ”She was one of a kind, a supernova who shone brightly and enhanced the lives of many people. Her legacy lives on. To all who knew her Sheena was something of a legend but to her family who are left with a great void in their lives,she was simply the best.”