Friends at the End is a Scottish Charity promoting knowledge and understanding of end of life choices and campaigning to change the law to allow Assisted Dying.
We work closely with MSPs and stakeholders, on our primary aim, which is to support the development of legislation in the Scottish Parliament, to allow Assisted Dying in Scotland.
We also provide care, compassion and companionship to those facing the end of their lives.
Friends at the End was formed in 2000 by a group of people led by Dr Libby Wilson who, until her death in March 2016, was Convenor of the organisation.
Amanda Ward became interested in assisted dying whilst studying for her LLM (R) in Medical Law at the University of Glasgow. She went on to undertake a PhD entitled ‘What is the Scots Law on Assisted Dying: Finding the signal amongst the noise’.
Amanda is a University tutor and has taught various courses on the LLB programme at the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde, including Healthcare Law and Ethics.
Amanda was legal advisor to Patrick Harvie MSP on the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill 2013 and is Secretary to the Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Group on End of Life Choices.
She is currently Convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s Health & Medical Committee. Amanda recently visited the USA to work with legislators, medical professionals and academics undertaking research into end of life lessons in the USA, specifically looking into Oregon and California’s approach to Assisted Dying.
Sophie Sellers has a background in corporate administration spanning 8 years, and more recently has moved to the third sector for the last 3. She has worked with FATE since February 2018 so is familiar with the organisation and is well-placed to deliver high-quality administration and management support.
Peter Warren worked for 16 years in the office of Margo MacDonald MSP and assisted in the preparation of two separate Bills that would have allowed for Assisted Dying to be made legal in Scotland. He has established many international connections, working closely with legislators, campaigners and organisations that directly assist people to die with dignity.
Peter has been connected to Friends at the End for ten years and in 2017 he joined the Friends at the End Council. Currently living and working in Spain, he has been an active member of DMD Catalunya for four years, and helps with their political campaigns. During this time he has worked to forge links between Catalunya and Scotland, as both places work to legalise Assisted Dying.
Lord Jeremy Purvis is a Patron of Friends at the End.
“The opportunity for people who are coming to the end of their life to have a greater choice in the circumstances of their passing is an issue of our age. Friends at the End helps to maintain a public debate on this issue in Scotland and provides information and awareness necessary for this debate to be as informed as possible. Since I first presented a Bill in the Scottish Parliament, the first since devolution, in 2004 to change the law to allow choice at the end of life, the public debate has moved on considerably. Regrettably however the law remains un-amended and therefore the campaign must continue. Friends at the End will assist this process and it is one major reason why I am very pleased to be a major supporter of their work.”
Melanie Reid worked for the Scotsman, Sunday Mail and the Herald before becoming a columnist for The Times. In 2010 she fell off her horse and broke her neck, becoming tetraplegic. She charts her life in the award-winning Spinal Column in The Times’ Saturday magazine and in 2019 her book The World I Fell Out Of was published.
Dr Mary Stewart graduated from Cornell University in 1949 and was part of a small close knit group involved in the rapid development of veterinary medicine at the University of Glasgow under the leadership of Sir William Weipers in the 1950s.
She was ahead of her time with her focus on the philosophical basis to ethics, animal welfare, the importance of the companion animal/human bond and the handling of bereavement.
Mary was also very supportive of the students at the Vet School and the first “Rodeo” was given its name by Mary Stewart, when, fresh from the USA, she decided that the school should have an exciting event. It continues today on an annual basis, and is a family day run by students to raise awareness of animal welfare issues, educate and raise money for charity.
A building at the University of Glasgow Garscube campus, opened in 2016, has been named the Mary Stewart Building.
Friends at the End is led by a council of six volunteers, who bring a mix of experience and insight into end of life choices and includes:
Dr Gillian MacDougall
ENT consultant and member of the Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Group on End of Life Choices. She liaises closely with palliative care colleagues to ensure patients with terminal head and neck cancer experience the best death possible. During her time as a junior doctor she was part of a head injuries team and has experience in asking bereaved families to consider organ donation.
Gillian has been the Clinical Director for the Lothian ENT department, Treasurer of ENT Scotland and has represented the East of Scotland on the ENTUK council.
She is proud to live in Leith, having originated from the West.
Julie was born and brought up in the west of Scotland and spent all her working life in Glasgow. She was a physiotherapist in the NHS for forty years, as a service manager and as a specialist clinician, working in womens’ health, and with men, women and children who had pelvic floor dysfunction. When the physiotherapy profession achieved degree status, she upgraded her original diploma to a degree at the University of East London, and in 2004, completed an MSc in her clinical specialty at Glasgow Caledonian University.
She retired in 2012 and went back to university to study English literature at the University of Glasgow. She was privileged to spend one year of her honours degree at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. In 2017 she completed her master’s degree in English Literature at Glasgow, which looked at the ways in which contemporary writers address dying and death, in fiction and in memoir. She began her PhD in 2018, which has the working title of ‘Representing chosen death: how writers depict physician-assisted death, and suicide’.
Julie joined the Council of Friends at the End in 2017 and she is a member of the group, Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying.
Dr Charles Warlow
Is Emeritus Professor of Neurology at the University of Edinburgh. He has also worked in London, Oxford, Birmingham and Aberdeen.
He has been President of the Association of British Neurologists, Editor of Practical Neurology, a National Research Ethics Advisor, Ombudsman for The Lancet, and a member of the BMJ Publication Ethics Committee.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of all three medical Royal Colleges – London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. As well as caring for patients with neurological problems, many of whom had a terminal illness, he did research mainly into stroke, but also motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and functional disorders of the nervous system. He has been an author on about 500 papers and has written several books.
He now combines his interest in sailing and photography by writing articles for sailing magazines and looking after a website describing what there is to see and do near the 200+ anchorages between the Mull of Kintyre and Skye.
Michelle Ballantyne MSP
Michelle Ballantyne was appointed as Member of the Scottish Parliament for the South Scotland region following the resignation of Rachael Hamilton MSP in May 2017.
Michelle trained at the Princess Alexandra School of Nursing at the London Hospital before moving into health service management, first in finance and then general management. Since 2005 she has worked in the voluntary sector, heading up drug and alcohol support services, and children and young people’s services. She is also a director of the manufacturing company she set up with her husband in 1990.
In 2012 Michelle was first elected as a local councillor on Scottish Borders Council, leading the Conservative Party Group. She was re-elected in 2017.
Is charity and trust lawyer and a former partner at Biggart Baillie and Bird Semple. Dr Wyllie served as a member of the European Commission’s Group of Experts in International Succession Law and is the chair of the Law Society of Scotland’s Trust and Succession Committee.
Gordon holds many voluntary positions including Decon Convener of the Trades of Edinburgh, a Trustee of Mediaeval Glasgow Trust, and a member of the Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Group on End of Life Choices.
Dr Gareth Morgan is a former academic specialising in governance of
charities and other non-profit organisations. He believes passionately
in the need to change the law on assisted dying and he has been involved
over more than 25 years in the main campaigns both in England and in
Scotland. He has also been active in various charitable initiatives on
end of life issues. As a practising Christian he is especially keen to
encourage engagement from faith-based organisations: in his experience
very few Christians wish to force someone in great suffering to carry on
living if they genuinely wish to die.
Moira has been a member of Friends at the End since 2009, has coordinated our Tayside Group since it was set up in the summer of 2017 and has always argued loudly that assisted dying should be legally available. Her background is mostly in training, on a range of subjects and in a variety of settings. A lot of years were spent in the employability field helping people, particularly those with disabilities, to find and keep suitable jobs. She worked in the voluntary sector for 18 years until January 2017, most recently as volunteer coordinator for a small cancer charity, and is now semi-retired, mainly doing voluntary work, but occasionally getting paid to deliver Scottish Mental Health First Aid courses on a freelance basis.
Is an advisor to council and is a graduate of Edinburgh University and retired journalist who has worked in the media for more than thirty years. She made numerous appearances on radio,
TV and in the printed press arguing for a change in the law to allow Assisted Dying.
Sheila is also a partner at Sinclair Ancestral Research.
Dr. Libby Wilson
Dr. Libby Wilson was a founding member of Friends at the End helping to set up the organisation in 2000
Libby was a champion of choice, working primarily in the fields of family planning and right-to-die. The eldest of three children, she was born in Surrey to Lucy and James Bell Nicoll who had not long returned to the UK from their missionary work in Africa.
Initially working in general practice in the early 1950s she became aware of the difficulties in obtaining contraceptive advice, especially if you were unmarried. She was a founder of the 408 Clinic, one of the first family planning services available in the country for single women. In 1967 Libby moved with her family to Glasgow and worked for the Family Planning Service.
During this time Libby refused to let societal conformities stop her in her own mission of giving women of all ages, colours and classes choice over childbearing and sexual health. With her clear cut English accent and mischievous sense of humour she stepped over the thresholds and boundaries of women living in the most varied of circumstances, from dire poverty to middle-class society, and offered help and support in the form of the pill or ‘just a little jag’ of the contraceptive injection.
Following her retirement aged 64, Libby went to Sierra Leone for a year to work with Marie Stopes International and in 1997 she published a book called ‘Unexpected Always Happen’ documenting her year in Africa and in 2004 her autobiographical account of her family planning work ‘Sex on the Rates’.
On her return she became a member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of Scotland after being introduced by a friend. Later, with others, she set up Friends at the End. Through her work with Friends at the End Libby pushed for right-to-die legislation in both the Scottish Parliament and Westminster; Libby’s work with Friends at the End also saw her work with those living with incurable illnesses and conditions who wanted to explore their end of life options. Libby helped hundreds of people at the end of their lives, being a constant source of support at the end of the telephone – day or night, driving up and down the country to visit people, to help them with their medical records or to write living wills etc. She put herself out there, completely for the benefit of others, and helped countless people have a happy and peaceful death.
A regular on television and radio until her late 80s, Libby was not one to shy away from the controversy often caused by her campaigns. Instead she spoke freely about her beliefs and used the publicity to further promote her causes, always driven by the principles of allowing people to make choices about the start and end of life.
Libby went on many trips with her right to die work and was very active in the international right to die movement travelling to various world federation and European conferences ranging from Tokyo in 2004, Melbourne in 2010 and Zurich in 2012. Libby was a prominent pillar of the right to die community, she sat on the seven member board of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies from 2002-2004 and received the World Federation Health Professionals award in 2010 –this is an award given every 2 years to the healthcare professional who has set a good example to other doctors and nurses in the international right to die movement.
Libby was someone who was not afraid to stand up and be vocal about what she believed in, especially when it was a matter of principle, as the founding Patron of Friends at the End this value set ensured that the organisation went from strength to strength under her directorship and we continue to work tirelessly with her legacy at the forefront.