The philanthropic legacy of Dr Mary Esslemont, one of Aberdeen’s most distinguished daughters, has been celebrated with the planting of a tree in the grounds of her former home in the city’s West End.
Shortly before her death in 1984, Dr Esslemont had worked with Soroptimist International Aberdeen Club — which she had joined in 1940 — to set up the Aberdeen Soroptimist Housing Society for the purpose of converting Mile End House into flats for social housing for women over 60.
Now full responsibility for the original one-bedroom flats and other homes within the Beechgrove Terrace development has passed to Osprey Housing Group following a transfer of engagements.
To mark the transfer — and to celebrate the centenary of Soroptimist International — Osprey Housing CEO Glenn Adcook and newly co-opted Osprey board member Alison Mitchell planted the Joseph Rock rowan tree close to Mile End House.
Alison Mitchell was chairman of the small social landlord’s volunteer committee until completion of the Osprey transfer.
She said: “Soroptimists International Aberdeen Club felt it appropriate to create a living legacy to mark the society’s work between 1983 and now, as well as Dr Esslemont’s generosity, especially in the global organisation’s centenary year.”
Mr Adcook said: ”Planting this tree is the perfect way to celebrate the end of one era and the dawn of the next for Aberdeen Soroptimist Housing Society’s tenants.
The tenants gave the transfer of engagements their full support and Osprey will now be accelerating capital works across the development.”
The Beechgrove Terrace site comprises the original Mile End House flats together with two larger purpose-built blocks — Mary Esslemont House and Elizabeth Henry House — totalling 14 one bedroom flats.
There is also a new build bungalow accessible for tenants with physical disabilities and large enough to accommodate a carer.
The ToE is understood to be the first in Scotland undertaken through ‘written agreement’ because the small number of properties and tenants involved did not necessitate a formal ballot.
Tenants — who formally became Osprey tenants on 1 November — had access to independent advice and support throughout the process.
Osprey had been providing management services to the Society for more than 12 years and completed the full ToE on 1 November.
The Society’s board had recommended the move to secure the future of both the properties and tenancies.
Mr Adcook – who retires as Osprey CEO next month – said: ”We have had a long-standing and very successful relationship with the Society, and we are delighted the tenants decided to join Osprey Housing.”
Osprey currently owns and manages more than 1,800 properties across Aberdeenshire, Moray, and elsewhere in Aberdeen City.
Image: Society chairman and newly co-opted Osprey board member Alison Mitchell joined by Osprey CEO Glenn Adcook in the grounds of Mile End House
Are you a social housing professional? Sign up for a FREE MEMBERSHIP to upload news stories, post job vacancies, and connect with colleagues on our secure social feed.