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Marie Johnston

Posted January 8th 2018 by Ciara

This week, we were deeply saddened to hear that our friend Marie from Grampian Opportunities had passed away.

Marie was part of the Outside the Box family, contributing, participating and enthusiastically helping us develop and test ideas to support and encourage people and communities who want to change things for the better.

We first met Marie as part of the Getting There project, exploring how user led organisations and self- directed support could work together to support and enrich people’s lives. Marie travelled to Dundee from Aberdeenshire with Grampian Opportunities and participated in the sessions, at first saying little but always listening and gradually participating more and more. She used her lived experience to develop ‘Strike Out’, which is a programme of activities developed by Grampian Opportunities for people to get ready for self-directed support and for assessment sessions around for their care and support. The brilliant thing about ‘Strike Out’ is that it focuses on the individual and the things they want to do and achieve first and then on the support they might need to help them achieve their goals.

Marie continued to take on new experiences and challenges. By the end of the Getting There project she was speaking at conferences, talking about how she used and developed her own personalised care and support, and how this enabled her to live a good life, to contribute to her community and to help other people in many different ways.

Supporting and encouraging people with poor mental health was important to Marie. We worked together on a project called ‘Permission to Dream’ with the aim of encouraging and supporting people with poor mental health to dream about their future. Marie took on a ‘social reporter’ role at a Getting There conference in Edinburgh asking people about their dreams and collecting their responses.

We later developed this further by asking different groups of people across Scotland about their dreams. Marie, together with her friend Dawn Ranson, took a lead role and facilitated sessions in Kintore and Inveruie. They used graphic facilitation as a way of capturing and illustrating people’s views.

One of the dreams that emerged from the conversation was around people wanting to contribute to their communities and be part of groups and to do things.


One dreamer said, “I would like to be part of a group of people and do things.” This was like the Marie we knew, loved and worked with. She volunteered with Grampian Opportunities because she wanted to part of things, meet people, develop as a person and share her life and abilities with others.

We send our love and thoughts to Grampian Opportunities and Marie’s family and friends.

Reports and materials that Marie Johnston helped us with are:

Getting There and Permission to Dream

Getting There: What we did and the difference we made

Permission to Dream Report 2016

Permission to Dream Report 2015

Permission to Dream full report


  • Posted by Louise Farmer on January 9th 2018
    So sad to hear that Marie has passed away. She was always willing to help and had only recently offered to support me with awareness raising workshops. We'll miss her.
  • Posted by Sharon on January 9th 2018
    Such a lovely tribute to an inspirational , warm and kind hearted young woman. I first met Marie through my self directed support work and we formed a friendship from there where we would discuss person centred care through sds and many other topics. We shared one passion in life which was very important to both of us and this being support and recognition and understanding of mental health and how sds can and does support individuals to have a vision and dreams. We met for coffee and often chatted through social media to catch up. Nothing was ever too much trouble for Marie always putting others first and thinkng out of the box to try to offer support and/or innovatation to on going projects. Condolences to Marie family and her GO family. Marie rest in peace my angel xx
  • Posted by Lorna smith on January 9th 2018
    I met Marie at an inspiring course, Partners in Policymaking. I would sit at the back with her and she would say very little but absorbed everything. But what she did say would be profound and on point. Over the months of Partners Marie and I developed a friendship. She was a beautiful woman with so much to give to this world. When the course finished it as as if she was a butterfly finally having learnt how to fly, and fly she did. Marie was an articulate and inspirational speaker, a gentle genius and a wonderful human being. I felt privileged to have met Marie and am deeply saddened to hear of her passing. This site is a very respectful and kind act to honour Marie’s memory. Lorna
  • Posted by Angi Wood on January 8th 2018
    I had the pleasure of knowing Marie through work with Self-Directed Support and our team gained a lot from Marie and are all thankful that she could share some of her journey with us. She will be sorely missed by many and our thoughts are with her family and those closest to her at this sad time
  • Posted by Moira Dunworth on January 8th 2018
    I am so sad to read this news. I met Marie as part of a piece of research I was doing for the Open University. She was so kind and generous with her time, her knowledge and her understanding. She was an inspiring woman. My condolences to her family, friends and colleagues - she will be much missed.
  • Posted by Liv Cockburn on January 8th 2018
    A lovely genuine person, always had time for everyone. iConnect staff send kind regards to all at Go. Condolences to her family
  • Posted by Alastair Minty on January 8th 2018
    A lovely tribute to Marie, she will be missed by so many people.
  • Posted by Marjory on January 8th 2018
    I met Marie at church and after moving to Inverurie myself we often met in the high street and stopped for a newsy about everything. A real genuine young lady and lovely speaker. I shall miss her. Rest in peace and know you were greatly loved and admired by myself and many others. ❤️❤️❤️
  • Posted by Patricia Dressel on January 8th 2018
    Marie was a member of the church I belong to and we were good friends. There were times when we went out for lunch and had a good catch up with our news. She was a very shy lady when I first met her but she worked hard to make a big change in her life. She achieved many wonderful things through her work and she knew how proud I was of her. I really loved her as my friend. Rest in peace Marie so privileged to have known you and had you as a dear friend. xx
  • Posted by Kim hay on January 8th 2018
    I first met Marie through Comraich mha then at Grampian opportunity she was a truly beautiful inspiration fly high
  • Posted by susan williamson on January 8th 2018
    I'm so saddened my Marie's passing, I met her at Comrie in Inverurie she was a lovely lady and has achieved so much. My thoughts and prayers go to her family and friends
  • Posted by Linda Singer on January 8th 2018
    Thank you Outside the Box for taking the time to do this. She was an amazing lady with such potential. Just before Christmas she told me she felt she had a year of achievements - spoke at the Scottish Parliament, walked the Queensferry Crossing and achieved an SQA star award! Her wish for the new year was to help someone - and I hope she realised how many people she did and even now continues to help.

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