Agnes Young – sadly missed

Agnes Young – sadly missed

We are sad to report the passing of Agnes Young, who died on 1 February 2022 at the age of 67.

Agnes was born on 16 November 1954.  A twin and one of 10 children, she went to live in East Fortune Hospital when she was young and stayed there until the early 1980s.  She then moved to the Hopetoun Unit in Haddington, before moving back to the community in 1997, settling in Dunbar.

Agnes was non-verbal and had sight loss.  She used a wheelchair and could present as a private person who did not seek social interaction.  But first impressions are often misleading and when Agnes got to know people, and they got to know her, her personality came to the fore.

Agnes was skilled at letting people know what she didn’t like.  When she needed her teeth brushed but was unsure of the credentials of the person helping her, she would clamp her jaws shut.  Her message was clear.

But once she liked someone, her demeanour would change.  Her body would loosen and she would relax and have fun.

Agnes was a keen church goer and she was a member of the congregation at Belhaven Church, where she made some really good friends, including Anne and Graham.  Her church pals initially bought fresh fruit for Agnes to enjoy, but when they discovered her difficulties with eating, they switched to sensory gifts – scents and textures – which she loved.

When the COVID-19 lockdown made it impossible to attend church in person, Agnes joined services online.  From time-to-time, she would receive a special “shout out” from the Minister.

Agnes also enjoyed the music of the church.  She paid a visit to Dunbar Choral, where she soon became a much-loved honorary member.  During rehearsals, Agnes and her staff would hold up score cards, Strictly-style, to let the choir members know how they were doing.

A number of people featured prominently in Agnes’ life.  She was in regular touch with several members of her family and reconnected with others over the years.  And she was a leading light in a 10-strong friendship group, who would spend Fridays together at a local café or at get-togethers at each other’s home.  While several members of the group have passed away, Agnes kept in touch with Helen and Margaret.

During lockdown, when it was difficult for all of us to see family and friends, Agnes found a pen pal, with the assistance of her Support Practitioners.  Agnes kept a photo of her new friend on her dressing table.

In recent years, as she became more comfortable with touch, Agnes began to enjoy a head or foot massage and liked getting her nails painted.

Agnes loved the arts and visits to Edinburgh Playhouse saw her enjoy ballet, Dirty Dancing and Grease.

Around four years ago, Agnes took a trip to London, where she visited Kensington Palace and the London Eye.

When she went to see The Lion King, Agnes was running a little late, as the result of an afternoon nap.  As she came down the aisle towards her seat, the whole audience was in uproar.  Agnes’ staff thought they were reacting to her loud and hearty laugh, but that was only part of the story.  Behind Agnes was a 15 foot giraffe and the entire cast of the award-winning musical!

Agnes was a lady who always looked her best.  She wore colourful outfits, lace and frills, and loved her jewellery, with pearls a particular favourite.

On Agnes’ passing, members of her team shared warm memories of her:

  • “Agnes will be greatly missed and never forgotten.” – Hannah Dunbar
  • “Agnes was loved by many and will be sadly missed.” – Jessie Main
  • “Agnes was a beautiful lady and will be greatly missed by everyone.” – Nakita Main
  • “I was very privileged to work with Agnes for about a year. She was the epitome of serenity, with a stubborn streak underneath. She warmed to people over time and had the most glorious smile and laugh. She will be missed a lot by everyone who knew her.” – Rona Passmore

Helen Hall, a Support Practitioner who worked with Agnes for over 20 years, wrote this poem in her memory:

Poem for Agnes
When you look at me, what do you see?
My eyes fail me and I cannot speak.
I cannot walk, as my limbs are weak.
I hear the world and feel ignored.
I grew oh so tired and oh so bored.
Then one day, you saw within.
As my eyes had sparkle and my face a grin.
I couldn’t speak, yet my words were clear.
I couldn’t walk, yet my weight you bear.
I know now I mattered and have left my mark.
My name will be spoken with the lark.
When you think of me, don’t be sad.
Know you helped make my world so grand.
I loved my life filled with family and friends.
Knowing one day it would come to an end.
Now I must leave and let go your guiding hand.
It’s my turn to dance and run free in the sand.
Forever in my heart, my lady Agnes.

Agnes will be sadly missed, but fondly remembered by everyone who knew her.

Thanks to Mya Gibson, Sarah Gillies, Helen Hall, Jessie Main, Nakita Main, Hannah Nairn, Rona Passmore, and Yvonne Swan for their support for Agnes and for sharing their memories of her.