Tag Archives: North of Scotland

Jersey of the day: The Sandpiper Trust

Today I am proud to be representing the Sandpiper Trust, a charity dedicated to saving lives by improving immediate care in across Scotland.

Sandpiper Trust 1
The aim of the Sandpiper Trust is to help save lives in Scotland by improving immediate care especially in the remote and rural areas, through the provision of appropriate standardised and uniform medical equipment, known as Sandpiper Bags, for use by specially trained GPs, community nurses, paramedics and A&E Consultants, all of whom operate on a voluntary basis.

The administering of rapid and appropriate medical intervention to a patient during the critical “Golden Hour” not only contributes to an increase in positive patient outcomes but also raises community confidence and resilience especially in remote parts of Scotland.

Such has been the success of this initiative that it has been endorsed by the Scottish Ambulance Service and incorporated in their 999 Emergency Response network, thereby helping reduce response times. In simple words – more lives are now being saved.

Over the past 12 years they have raised over £1.5 million pounds to improve pre-emergency medical care in rural areas of Scotland, and not just the Highlands and Islands where there is an obvious need for enhanced kit, but Stonehaven, Inverurie, Banchory.

Every £1,000 that is donated buys a Sandpiper bag that contains equipment to save a life.

For more information visit:  http://www.sandpipertrust.org


The Sandpiper Trust will be supporting Ride the North with the provision of medical support throughout the weekend.  As the person most likely to need their support, we are very grateful for their continuing assistance!

The arrival of Spring?

Having spent many an hour inside on the Turbo Trainer during the Winter, I am now back in the routine of getting outside on my bike.

On Saturday however the elements were against me.  I stayed dry, which was a saving grace, but the wind was brutal.  I got buffeted and battered.  The strong wind even made descending hard work; tough to control my direction and difficult to maintain forward momentum.  It was “fresh” too; cold enough to make one side of my face feel numb, anaesthetised.  Stringing a sentence together was a challenge, the movement of my jaw was restricted, frozen.

As I fought my way around, I started to dream of warmth.  Some sun on my back.  A gentle breeze.  Cycling in shorts.  Ski gloves discarded.  Bare arms.  Summer.

Summer in Scotland. What could possibly go wrong?!

At the time it seemed like a distant dream.  Almost too much to hope for.  However we didn’t have to wait for long…

This afternoon the weather was perfect; clear skies, sun, calmness and warmth.  Not a breath of wind.  Prepared as ever, I was in the office watching the weather enviously.  Having braved the early morning chill for a swim I was in no position to go out on my bike.

A disappointment today, but the dream gets closer all the time.  I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to the Summer this much.  I just hope the Summer decides to visit us in the North of Scotland again this year!  Fingers crossed!

Making connections

I’ve found Sunday mornings are much more enjoyable with a warm glow of satisfaction from some early morning exercise inside me.  This morning, having managed to drag myself out of my warm bed I spent a productive hour in the pool.

I may be deluded, but the pool seemed quieter and more business-like than it has done in recent weeks – perhaps the impact of New Year Resolutions is already being diluted.  We can only hope!  The fact that it was almost light at 8am also made a positive difference… roll on spring!

This morning my fire has also been stoked by increased levels of Social Media activity, which is always exciting…

The arrival of February saw the start of “Heart Health Month”.  The Press & Journal, North of Scotland’s local quality newspaper, kindly marked the event with a feature on my Heart Health story looking forward to the Euro City Cycle in May.


(Unfortunately at time of writing the Press & Journal online “Lifestyle” section is “down”, as is the British Heart Foundation Healthy Heart Month web page.  I’ll update the links when they’re up and running.)

The Press & Journal article was picked up by the “Ride the North” team and publicised on their Facebook page (which is up and running!) and has resulted in some fantastic publicity, and some sponsorship for which I’m really grateful!

Ride the North

“Ride the North is a two day, 170 mile cycle challenge through the beautiful scenery of the Grampian Highlands in the North of Scotland.”  It’s a fantastic and highly sociable way to see the area.  Given it’s held in Scotland in August, perfect weather is almost guaranteed!

The event started in 2011 with a group of 38 cyclists.  Since then it’s really caught the imagination of the North East Cycling community – this year there will be over 600 cyclists taking part.  The event works closely with its Charity Partners and Sponsors to raise some serious amounts of money!  It’s amazing what a few good people with a common goal can achieve, and I’ve a suspicion this is only the start!

Spaces for this year’s event are sold out however there may be some Charity places available if you’re interested.  If it’s the same as this year, entry for next year’s event will go on sale in November.

For me, “Ride the North” will be the third, final, and, I suspect most physically challenging cycle of the summer.  I’m hoping by that stage I’ll be over the feelings of “can I do it” and be able to focus on “doing it”!  Can’t wait!

Things you learn at a Cardiology Conference

My life has had a little more variety since my Heart Attack. I’ve met some interesting people, discovered healthy eating, caught the exercise bug, been educated in control and tried to introduce balance into my life.

untitled (37)This week, I had the honour of attending the North of Scotland Cardiology Conference.  The conference was open to all Health Professionals in the Region.  There were a number of sessions on prevention and treatment of Heart Conditions throughout the day.

I had been invited along to speak about my “Heart” experiences in a session entitled “A case that has influenced my practise”.  I don’t think there was anything particularly special about my case however they were keen to introduce a patient’s view into the room to provide a different perspective on things.

I’ve spoken in front of groups of people lots of times over the years.  While I wouldn’t say it’s something particularly enjoy, I don’t mind it.  I was happy to “volunteer” when asked if I was interested in speaking at it, although the whole experience turned out to be a bit more nerve-racking than I had anticipated.

The overall Conference Title was “The Patient journey to 2020”, so I decided to speak about my personal life journey, the impact my Heart Attack has had on it, the important role the people in the room have played in it over the past few months, and how important I think it is to keep focusing to the future.  While I recognise that it’s important to operate within your limits, I think it’s all too easy for people to become overly cautious and wrap themselves in cotton wool.  Having survived a Heart Attack, it’s important that you still live!

I arrived a little early for my session (the last one of the day).  I wanted to make sure I didn’t get caught in traffic.  I also wanted to make sure I knew the format and what was expected of me.

The Fleming Auditorium looks bigger from the front!

Upon arrival at the Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre, I was slightly perturbed to discover that the Conference was taking place in the Main Auditorium, a room that seats over 400 people… what the hell had I volunteered for!!!

As it turned out, I arrived a little earlier than anticipated, so I made my way to the back of the Auditorium to listen to the penultimate session of the day entitled “A broken heart.  Are women more vulnerable than men?”.  (Fortunately the room was relatively sparsely populated… and I recognised a few friendly faces from the Cardiac Rehabilitation team)

There were three cases presented in my session:

  • One about a rather head-strong character with diabetes who gave the doctors the run-around for a couple of years before having a triple heart bypass (a happy ending);
  • The second about a 46 year old with two young daughters who had a malignant growth in one of his Heart Chambers and fought bravely before his body succumbed to the disease (a very sad ending); and
  • Me (a story about a journey that is yet to end).

So, what did I learn in my few minutes at the North of Scotland Cardiology Conference?

  1. Women are more difficult than men
    in relation to diagnosis and treatment of Heart Conditions at least, I’m sure this doesn’t apply in any other situations!
  2. I really am very lucky
    I knew this already, but it’s always good to be reminded!
  3. I am still capable of standing and speaking to a relatively large audience without my Heart letting me down
    I figured this was probably a good crowd to test this out in front of!
  4. Listen to your doctor’s advice and follow her / his instructions
    Thinking you know better is unlikely to positively influence the eventual outcomes
  5. If you think you have a tough job and have to make difficult, important decisions, you have no idea!
    I have so much respect for the Health Professionals who make life and death decisions as a matter of course, day in and day out.  It must be so hard to live with the consequences when things don’t work out.

So, I did my little talk and left feeling good about myself but much smaller than I felt when I arrived.  I think it did me good.  Maybe next time I’ll see if I can attend for the full day!

Feeling small!