An appreciation by Karyn McCluskey, chief executive, Community Justice Scotland

THERE are people who have a significant public and media profile. Then there are others like Tina Hendry, who has died aged 52. She leaves an immense legacy across Scotland among many of our country’s most vulnerable children and parents, teachers and police officers alike.

Tina trained as a nurse then joined Strathclyde Police as an officer. Her compassion, dedication and no-nonsense attitude went before her. She was intensely practical, concerned not with talking about an issue but about what she could actively do to make a difference.

She exuded energy and a drive for change that was unparalleled. She adored her own children and indeed everyone else’s. It was her experience of parenting that brought her to working with the topic of attachment, the bond that exists between babies and their caregivers, which is often disrupted when the latter are unable to form a secure bond due to trauma or other factors that cause stress or tension.

Tina took a career break from her stable job to further this work, developing an entire support programme for caregivers, teachers and parents. Her goal was to develop the capacity of individuals and organisations to nurture bonds with children who had suffered disrupted attachment.

Her reputation travelled by word of mouth, passing from teacher to teacher, parent to parent, as someone who could help, someone who could give them skills to change the trajectory of children’s lives. She was the go-to person, giving her time and energy selflessly, believing always in parents and in transformation as always being possible.

In schools around Scotland, teachers have mourned her loss, knowing the difference she made to the children in their care, and the support and skills she gave to teachers to change the way they responded to the complex issues in their classrooms.

Public interest in childhood trauma has exploded across Scotland over the last five years. The source of this explosion can be attributed directly to Tina Hendry. In the summer of 2017, her small team at the Re-Attachment social enterprise was a lead partner in bringing to Scotland a documentary film Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope, which explores why toxic stress in childhood can leave a lifelong impact.

There was no funding, and no plan for a tour, and yet that team was able to respond to requests from 25 Scottish communities that summer, with 2,500 people viewing a ground-breaking film that no-one had previously heard of. The tour sparked not only a Scottish trauma movement, but launched ripples across the UK, stretching to Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

Tina Hendry was at the heart of so much change in our country, working to prevent attachment disruption for our children.

One story illustrates the values that drove her, and illustrates how far she would go to do The Right Thing. A man had phoned his rental agent on a Friday afternoon. The young woman who took the phone call was not in charge but listened to him. The man said he was struggling and wanted to see if he could get some of his deposit back from his flat to see him through. The woman said she would ask her manager first thing on Monday as she could not make that decision. The man rang off, saying, “I’d be better dead”.

The woman, worried, phoned the police. Tina and a fellow police officer were dispatched to the address.When they arrived, they found the man in a dreadful state: no gas or electricity, and no food in the house for three days. He had an injury that prevented him working and had no-one to turn to.

Realising that he was in a desperate state, she and her partner put him in the car and took him to the ER. They knew, though, that the hospital would not keep him in, because he was not acutely ill. She persuaded a wonderful Registrar to keep him in the hospital overnight in warmth, company and food. The man was overcome with emotion, crying and overwhelmed by the kindness of Tina, the police officer and the NHS staff. No-one could forget the image of these two officers, in full body armour, cuddling the man on the trolley as he went to the ward to be cared for. Tina Hendry: compassion in action.

It was virtually impossible to tell Tina’s actual height, as she always wore a beehive hairstyle, simultaneously immaculate and gravity-defying. Even after losing her hair due to chemotherapy treatments, she wore a wig that emulated both Coco Chanel and Louise Brooks.

She leaves a Tina-shaped crater in so many lives. Most of all we think of her parents, Patricia and Jim, her children Jamie, Lisa, Christina, wee Lisa, Michael and Mary Ann, her extended family, Eugene, Carol, Annie, James and grandchildren Lewis and Lola Belle. The beautiful Quaker phrase comes to mind: “We hold you in the light.” Thank you for sharing her with us.