Our people

The Acorns team is made up of bereavement specialists with input from other professionals depending on the issues being covered.

Bereavement teams:
Mairi Finlay and Susan Beattie

Mairi Finlay


With two decades of bereavement experience, social worker Mairi has spent over 17 years with the Marie Curie Hospice in their Patient and Family Support Team. In this setting, she has amassed specific insights to caring for, and supporting, both patients and their families, particularly children as they approach bereavement as well as afterwards. She has shared this expertise with Acorns for almost five years. Mairi particularly enjoys helping people as they share their emotions and struggles to ensure they can confidently face the future.

Susan Beattie


Susan has almost 15 years experience in bereavement support having worked at Marie Curie helping families ahead of, and after, loss. A trained bereavement counsellor, she has been with the Acorns team since 2014 helping individuals navigate their grief journey with particular focus establishing new, solid support networks.

Bereavement teams:
Ailsa Hill and Donna Hastings​

Ailsa Hill


Ailsa trained and worked as a nurse before moving to midwifery as her specialist area. In her work, she discovered the joy of supporting people facing a loss and this led to her completing a masters degree in counselling from Edinburgh University. Since then, she’s applied new skills and built up a wealth of experience in both adult and child settings. Ailsa went on to work as a Bereavement Support Worker with Richmond’s Hope which serves the specific needs of children aged 4-18 years. She now works as a school counsellor with Mypas in East Lothian, working with young people aged 10-18 years. A key part of the Acorns team, she leads sessions and supports people at all stages of their journey.

Donna Hastings


Donna is a Registered Health Play Specialist and Childhood Grief Therapist and in her third year of Studies, completing a diploma in Pluralistic Counselling. Donna’s day job is the Child and Families Lead at St Columba’s Hospice Care. There she supports children and families when an adult in their lives has a diagnosis of an incurable illness or when they are bereaved.

She has worked in Childhood Bereavement for 19 years and is a Trustee for Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland.

Donna has been part of the Acorns team for over 6 years and has been able to see first hand the difference support like this can make.

Our bereavement specialists

Mike Wilson


A former GP, Mike hasn’t allowed retirement to hide his particular expertise in exploring grief through the physical lens. He provides reassurance that the physiological responses to grief are normal. Participants can share and quickly realise how common their experiences are.

Chris Jones

Confidence coach

An Acorns veteran, Chris has been supporting people to build their confidence and develop new skills in managing to face uncertain futures. Following the loss of his own wife, Chris was a former Acorns attendee and wanted to share his experience to help others drawing on his practical and personal journey.

William Purves team

Acorns is sponsored by Scotland’s largest independent family owned funeral firm, William Purves Funeral Directors. Our bereavement team lend a hand to support people and the group work from week to week.

Mark Sutherland

Funeral Director

Described as gentle, dependable and entirely suited to his role as a funeral director, Mark has a particular interest in supporting bereaved families after their funeral. He empathises with and supports people through, the various stages of grief.

Hazel Strachan

Client care

Hazel is a people person through and through. Strongly intuitive and sensitive, she is on hand to support those who find it challenging to face up to the uncertainties presented by bereavement by drawing on her decade of first-hand client support.

James Morris

Funeral Director

For three decades, James has led families through their funeral experiences with his particularly strong skills of compassion and understanding. He’s been passionate about caring for families after the service and is determined to help them navigate their grief journey.