Scottish festival dream to be fulfilled for Lillian Burden

FERGUS – Lillian Burden doesn’t have a Scottish bone in her body – but she’s held the song of the bagpipes in her heart for nearly a century.

“I can’t explain it – when I hear it, my heart goes ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’” said Burden, 97, a resident of Chartwell Gibson Long-Term Care Residence in North York.

On Aug. 10, Burden will attend a massed bands event for the first time in decades as an honoured guest of the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games.

Her wish is being fulfilled by Chartwell Retirement Residences and Wish Of A Lifetime Canada.

Since 2015, more than 100 seniors have had their dearest desires fulfilled through this charitable partnership, which is open to all Canadian seniors.

Attending Toronto’s Scottish parade was a childhood highlight each year for Burden, one of 10 siblings in a family that sometimes relied on the Scott Mission to put food on the table.

“I’d go running just to hear the bagpipes,” she recalls.

“I loved it when the leader with the big drum on his stomach would ‘Bang! Bang! Bang!’ My feet would go, my heart would go and I would be dancing.”

She was nominated for her wish by Chartwell Gibson program and support services manager Debbie McCance, who competed nationally as a Scottish dancer in her own childhood and wanted to do something special for the senior, who is known for her joy and kindness.

Burden is a mother of two, grandmother of five, great-grandmother of 10 and great-great-grandmother of two.

“Through Wish of a Lifetime Canada, we are able to enrich the lives of older Canadians, help them overcome barriers to fulfill their dreams and feel a sense of inclusion,” said Chartwell president Brent Binions.