Recently published on the Heather Lodge website, below is a lovely communication with well known face around Arran, Malcolm Kerr. Here he who talks about his involvement with Heather Lodge – Arran’s holistic health and therapy centre, balancing science and the unknowable, and the things that do, and do not, make his heart sing!
Most GPs are, at best, wary of ‘alternative’ treatments, so why do you embrace them so wholeheartedly?
I’ve been brought up and educated in a scientific tradition. But we don’t know as much as we think we know. There is a lot that science can’t explain. I’m suspicious of accepted dogma which has been established for a mere 500 years. We tend to forget things that have sustained mankind for the 500,000 years before that. The best we can do is keep a foot in science and a foot in ancient tradition, balancing the many contradictions which that throws up. Like a lot of GPs I’m suspicious of Big Pharma culture, and feel we have to resist where we can.
Where did your love of trees originate?
When I was growing up, in suburban Leith, we spent a lot of time out of doors, in local parks, waste ground, building sites and railway cuttings. (Society’s approach to risk has changed a lot during my lifetime!) From an environmental point of view, when I was still at school I was radicalised by reading Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’. Mankind evolved in forests, and nature is essential to our well-being. Trees are critical for our survival, individually and as a species. They are also very beautiful.
Towards the end of a long career as a busy GP, what on earth motivates you to invest so much of yourself in the creation of a wellness centre?
We opened in 2017. It seemed a good idea at the time! It has been a fascinating journey, however, and it is great to see Heather Lodge support employment, tourism and the health of the community. I like to finish what I’ve started. I’ve come to realise we have generated a model for health cooperation which, if not unique, could perhaps be replicated elsewhere.
What is your vision for the future of Heather Lodge?
I’d like to secure the institution for the next generation and see what they can do with it. We have incorporated as a Community Interest Company in the last year, and are building the ‘social enterprise’ model. I’d like to see a board of active directors, professional management, fuller use of the facilities, and to continue the active partnership we have with the NHS and other statutory bodies. Ideally, in due course, the community will own the premises too.
Will you ever retire — and if so, how will you spend your time?
Next year! It has been a privilege to work over the last decade as a rural GP locum in some of the wildest remote corners of our beautiful country. I’ve enjoyed meeting people and seeing places more intimately and in more depth than is possible as a visitor or tourist. I look forward to having more time with my chess board, guitar and chainsaw.
What makes your heart sing?
Mountains, live music, the sea, old woodland, fungi, birds, underdogs, Hibernian FC, clouds, conviviality, well-seasoned firewood and my grand-children. And (thanks for asking!) I don’t have much time for organised religion, television, machine politics, plastic packaging, overbearing bureaucracy, travel, computer games, pomposity, and capitalism.
Image copyright: Malcolm Kerr