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Community Champion: East Haven’s Wendy Murray is a volunteering force for nature

For Wendy Murray, volunteering has been a way of life since she was a young lass in Yorkshire.

But for the past 30 years, the cricketing county’s loss has been very much the gain of East Haven on the Angus coast near Carnoustie.

Community champion

Wendy has led efforts transforming the tranquil community.

Work to protect rare flora and fauna has helped put East Haven on the map of environmental organisations.

And the village is never far away from the top of the tree in annual Beautiful Scotland awards.

Just reward for the passion of a community champion who even finds the time to paint pictures to hang on the walls of village-run East Haven public toilets affectionately known as the Loo-vre!

East Haven
Wendy Murray with her latest artwork on the wall of the East Haven ‘Loo-vre’ public toilets. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media

Volunteering from an early age

“From the time I grew up in Yorkshire, volunteering was a way of life,” said Wendy

She came to Scotland in 1986 as a nurse at the former Ashludie Hospital.

And soon after, her first volunteering role in Scotland was to set up Tayside’s inaugural community-based carers group.

A 1990 move to East Haven for Wendy and husband, Alasdair, saw her work with others to form the village residents’ association.

And she has been secretary and lead trustee of the group for 25 years.

East Haven 800

In 2014, Wendy led on the celebrations to mark the 800th anniversary of the one-time fishing village.

“It was an ambitious programme,” said Wendy.

“But I’m proud we achieved our objective of 20 different projects in one year.

East Haven
A boat named The Sisters was a centrepiece of the project to mark East Haven’s 800th anniversary. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media

“Living in a beautiful place like East Haven is a great privilege.

“But it also brings with it a responsibility to look after it as well as you can.”

And volunteering which began with beach cleans on the sands at Wendy’s front door has stretched far beyond East Haven.

Community litter initiatives

She is the lead co-ordinator of Angus Clean Environments (ACE), established in 2017 from a local litter summit.

It has seen Wendy lead other initiatives including the Save Our Seas project at Arbroath FC and the town’s harbour.

And through her close work with Angus Council’s Adopt-a-Street programme, Wendy sat on a national litter strategy group in 2019/20.

She is also a volunteer assessor for Keep Scotland Beautiful

In 2021, Wendy has visited 20 It’s Your Neighbourhood groups across Dundee and Angus to offer advice and support.

East Haven
Wendy Murray at the village entrance. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media

Small Blue Butterfly

Closer to home, she has been part of the campaign to protect the Small Blue Butterfly.

The rare insect’s sole food source is the kidney vetch of East Haven’s grassy dunes.

And Carnoustie’s Small Blue has recently grown into a large community butterfly.

In a unique project, stones laid by locals have become a symbol of pandemic hope and resilience.

Wendy spent nearly 500 hours repainting each rock for a resin-coated butterfly that is now a stunning seafront attraction.

National accolades for the East Haven community’s efforts adorn the area around the immaculately-kept loos just the other side of the bridge on the main east coast rail line which dissects the village.

And Wendy’s list of personal achievements includes a Carnoustie Citizen of the Year award in 2015 and Dundee & Angus Community Woman of the Year recognition in 2016.

She was also named a Royal Horticultural Society Britain in Bloom community champion in 2018.

Carnoustie butterfly
Angus Lord Lieutenant Pat Sawers and community volunteer Wendy Murray with the recently unveiled Carnoustie butterfly. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

Wendy added: “East Haven managed to achieve the RHS Scotland award for overcoming adversity this year and we are all really proud of that.

“Everyone faced a lot of adversity, but hopefully we can continue to build on what we have done and I look forward to continuing my work.

“I really enjoy working with other communities – and that support comes back to us as well,” Wendy said.

You can read about or previous Community Champions here.