President of Stonehaven Ladies Probus Club, Meg Duncan, opened the first meeting of 2014 by introducing Claire Maitland of the Sandpiper Trust.
The Trust was founded in 2001 following a family tragedy when Claire’s nephew, Sandy, aged 14, drowned in a lake in Canada.
Claire recognised through the tragedy the importance of a good relationship with doctors and emergency services, particularly in rural communities, and proper training in life-saving emergency medical equipment as essential.
The Trust is named after the Sandpiper Bird which shows a lively, active nature. Gavin Hastings, the former rugby player is the patron.
Bags weighing 22 kilos are provided to doctors, nurses and paramedics who receive training.
In 12 years, 900 bags, each costing a basic £1000, have been provided. In the last year, training pods have been sent to the Western Isles.
The charity, which has no paid fundraisers, raises money in a variety of ways, including coffee mornings and sponsored cycle rides.
The Marine Hotel in Stonehaven had a beerfest in aid of the Trust.
Funds are also raised from the sale of two books. One contains recipes but also hints in recognising various symptoms which require medical help. The other book, entitled ‘The swallow, the owl, and the Sandpiper’, offers words of courage, wisdom and spirit and has raised £35,000. Her Majesty the Queen has contributed her favourite words of wisdom (a poem quoted by her father, George VI in his Christmas broadcast in 1939 and subsequently recited at the Queen Mother’s funeral).
Such was the interest shown by Her Majesty the Queen, in the work of the Trust and the emergency bag, that an interview at Balmoral, scheduled to last ten minutes, stretched to an hour.
Claire’s talk was warmly received by the members, who after asking several relevant questions, queued up to buy the two books. The Club gave a donation to the Sandpiper Trust.