Spring has sprung and we’ve been busy bees!

Our Spring 2017 newsletter is out! Make a cuppa, put your feet up and get comfy while you read our news.

Playing for another cause by Gavin Hastings

Since I was a 9-year-old lad, rugby has always been my passion. Professionally, playing for Queen and country, leading the team to victory and a stadium creaking with lively Scottish supporters, these were things that were important to me. It wasn’t until years later that I unwittingly found my passion ignited for another cause.

Fifteen years ago I was approached by sisters, Penny Dickson & Claire Maitland. The Scottish family had recently lost their 14-year-old son and nephew in a tragic accident. Although Sandy was a strong swimmer and keen sportsman, he had drowned at a remote lake while visiting his grandmother. The family realised that when accidents happen the emergency services may not always be close at hand to help. Their loss was the catalyst for the launch of the Sandpiper Trust, a charity dedicated to saving lives in rural Scotland.  They had a vision, which, from that day forward also became mine as Patron. Together we wanted to ensure that other families did not have to needlessly go through what they had.

The Sandpiper Trust saves lives by equipping specially trained medical professionals with life-saving medical equipment in what are known as ‘Sandpiper Bags’. When a high-priority 999 call comes through, ambulance coordinators locate voluntary Sandpiper BASICS emergency responders and direct them to the place of need fast, before an ambulance arrives.  When every second counts, these extra minutes can be life changing.

It was while Claire and her husband Robin were travelling back from their beloved Murrayfield, following a momentous occasion for the charity which saw Princess Anne present a Sandpiper bag at the match, that it struck her that funding 1000 life-saving bags would not be impossible. Very ambitious yes, but with sheer willpower, absolutely doable.  In 2016 that goal was achieved with 1000 Sandpiper bags now in the safe hands of volunteer GP’s, paramedics and nurses throughout Scotland, from the most rural practice in the Isles to the Borders and everywhere in-between.  For any charity, let alone a small, family run one, this is a massive accomplishment with a price tag of over £1m. A value which is unsurprisingly priceless to those whose lives have been saved and their families. And save lives we have. To continue to do so we need support.

From the outset, the rugby community has been behind the Trust, with match day collections, local team fundraisers and charity tournaments all boosting funds. As a contact sport, we’re no stranger to accidents on the pitch and we often spend long spells travelling along rural roads on match days. It’s comforting to know that if any one of us was in need, and the emergency services couldn’t get to us quickly enough, that the Sandpiper Trust could. In fact, last year, our responders were called out to over nine hundred 999 accidents and emergencies.

I know that there are lots of great fundraising activities happening across the country through our rugby clubs. All I ask is that when you next need a worthwhile cause to support you consider the Sandpiper Trust. Better still, contact them now to hear about the life-saving work they are doing in your own community.

Playing my part as Patron of the Trust and being an extension of the Sandpiper family is an honour. The greatest satisfaction to me is when I hear reports back from doctors of the lives that have been saved as a direct result of the Sandpiper equipment that they have been given. We can always save more though and so I will continue to fly the flag of this vital charity, spreading the word to people like you because together we can achieve much more.

Gavin Hastings OBE

Patron of the Sandpiper Trust

Sandpiper Wildcat granted Motion by MSP’s for its community contribution

Today we are honoured to receive a letter from MSP’s noting their support for the Sandpiper Wildcat Project.

Peter Chapman, MSP for North East Region, raised the Motion which gained cross-party backing. Thanking the Trust for its contribution to the local community, Peter also referred to Sandpiper Wildcat as a great local asset and wished us well with our future work.

We’ve pushed the button on our cardiac arrest initiative!

Today we announced that our cardiac arrest campaign to save 50 local lives every year in Grampian is now live.  

Since 2001, we have been instrumental in saving hundreds of lives throughout Scotland and with the launch of our Sandpiper Wildcat campaign, our service now extends to cardiac arrest emergencies in the north-east specifically.

The Sandpiper Trust saves lives in rural Scotland by equipping trained, volunteer responders with Sandpiper bags which contain all the necessary equipment required in an emergency.  Working with the Scottish Ambulance Service, Sandpiper responders are often the first to arrive at the scene of an incident.

The launch, held at the Royal British Legion in Inverurie, is a culmination of two years of planning involving extensive fundraising and recruitment drives. Nearly 90% of Wildcat’s £850,000 target has been reached and 200 volunteer responders are now primed and ready to respond to a suspected cardiac arrest emergency in their area.

Claire Maitland, MBE and Sandpiper Trustee explained “When someone has a cardiac arrest every single second counts.  A number of factors, including geography and spread of towns and villages, affect response time and mean that cardiac arrest patient outcomes locally are some of the worst in Europe. We hope that they can be improved drastically through our Wildcat initiative, which is also a joint collaboration with BASICS Scotland and the emergency services. From April 2015 to March 2016, there were 446 cardiac arrests in Grampian, less than 20 survived. We are committed to beating these statistics, saving 50 more lives every year.”

During the launch event, 50 volunteer responders, including Drs, nurses and individuals with no previous medical backgrounds, were equipped with defibrillators, Vehicle Locator Systems and other necessary supplies. The remaining 150 Wildcat responders have already received their kits. In addition, all have undertaken rigorous training, provided by The Sandpiper Wildcat Training Team.

Project leader, Keri Fickling commented; “Today is not only a major milestone for Sandpiper and the Wildcat team, but it’s also a defining moment in the strategic approach to pre-hospital care. Our cardiac arrest initiative is a first of its kind in the world. Never before have defibrillators been strategically placed based upon historic cardiac arrest data. We are excited about the prospect of setting a new standard for out of hospital care and the impact it will have, not just in our own communities but much further afield.”

Keri continued “As of today, 40 of these communities now have a dedicated Wildcat team in place, with each individual responder registered and available through the Scottish Ambulance Service on a rota basis. In addition, 8 more areas will be activated in the coming weeks.

“In many instances, we will work with existing individuals or groups such as Community First responders, however in 14 locations; Sandpiper Wildcat will provide additional emergency medical coverage where previously there was no locally based support and the nearest ambulance depot is located more than 8 miles away.”

The initiative has been created in partnership with the Scottish Ambulance Service. Milne Weir, General Manager North explained “The Scottish Ambulance Service is continually exploring new ways of working to ensure we are saving more lives than ever before. We are proud to work in partnership with Sandpiper Wildcat and communities across the Grampian region to enhance our co-responding network and provide life-saving care to patients experiencing cardiac arrest.”

Commenting on its relationship with the Trust, Dave Bywater, Consultant Paramedic and Lead for Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest, Scottish Ambulance Service added “We have worked closely with and benefitted from the fantastic work of the Sandpiper Trust for over 15 years. Working in partnership with voluntary groups is not a new concept, however this is a fairly new type of response in terms of Cardiac Responders which we are delighted to facilitate. The development of networks of Sandpiper Wildcat responders will undoubtedly enhance the resources available to respond to cardiac arrest patients as quickly as possible, vital given that survival chances reduce by 10% every minute without intervention.”

Closing the event, Keri added “As we push the button on Wildcat, it’s important that we thank everyone who has helped us get to this point. All those who fundraised, Community groups, businesses, local bodies, NHS Grampian Endowments, emergency services and all of our volunteers have been wonderfully supportive, having recognised the need for our work in their own communities and the life-saving role that we play.”

One volunteer responder, who attended tonight’s launch, knows this only too well. Keith Cruickshank’s life was saved by a quick-thinking neighbour who performed CPR and a paramedic team who were able to shock his heart with a defibrillator. Four years on, Keith and his wife Katie, from Huntly, were the projects first responders without previous medical experience. Keith’s story is a prime example of the positive impact of both early CPR and defibrillation.

While 200 responders have already been recruited, in order to reach its goal of achieving 24hr coverage throughout the 50 communities, the charity is asking more people to join its team of volunteers. Keri stressed “Many Wildcat volunteers have no previous medical background, just a willingness to make a difference in their own communities, so don’t let that be a barrier to signing up. If you’re based locally and have time to give we’d love to hear from you.”

For further details email admin@sandpiperwildcat.co.uk

Lanrick Challenge raises £14,000!


Firstly, we want to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated, supported or donated to the 2016 Lanrick Challenge, what an incredible day!

We are really excited to announce that we raised a giant £14,000, the most ever raised at our annual obstacle event.  The money will be divided equally between The Sandpiper Trust and Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance, two wonderful Scottish life-saving charities.

We have already been working hard behind the scenes and are delighted to announce that the 2017 Lanrick Challenge will be held on Saturday 5th August.  Registration will be open on 1 October 2016 and we hope that we can make next year’s event even bigger.

On Behalf of the Lanrick Challenge team we have been inspired and touched by everyone’s astonishing generosity.  Every donation makes a difference and we can’t say thank you enough.

We look forward to sending updates as our plans evolve and hope to see you on 5th August 2017. Don’t forget to pop the date in your diary now!


Strutt & Parker donates defibrillator to local centre

The Banchory office of Strutt & Parker has donated a defibrillator to a busy Deeside community facility.

The defibrillator, an emergency medical device which administers high energy electric shocks to someone in cardiac arrest, is to be located at Woodend Barn in the heart of the Woodend Community Complex on the outskirts of Banchory.

The Banchory office decided to donate the medical apparatus as part of the firm’s charity funding for the year. The defibrillator will be available to all the users of Woodend, which include Banchory Christian Fellowship, Buchanans Cafe Bistro, Woodend Barn Community Arts Centre, the Allotments and Deeside Rugby Club, of which Strutt & Parker are sponsors.

David Smart, Partner in Strutt & Parker’s Banchory office, said: “We have long been associated with the Sandpiper Trust, a charity working to improve rural emergency medical care, of which one of the founders was former Strutt & Parker (Scotland) chairman Robin Maitland.

“We felt funding a defibrillator fitted in well alongside the Sandpiper Trust as it is all about improving emergency medical help in rural areas. We felt it was appropriate to locate it in the Woodend complex as it has a high footfall and is visited by a wide demographic. It is a sensible location in which to have a defibrillator and we are delighted to be able to provide this facility for the community.”

The defibrillator was presented to Woodend landlord and Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett at an event attended by representatives from the various community groups which use Woodend at 3pm on Wednesday August 3; with training and familiarisation taking place throughout the afternoon.


The Queen presents milestone Sandpiper bag on behalf of life-saving charity

Thursday 4th July 2016, Balmoral,Aberdeenshire Scotland. Sandpiper Trust donate a defibrillator to her Majesty the Queen at Balmoral (Photo: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)

Her Majesty the Queen today, (Thurs 4 August) presented the 1000th Sandpiper Bag to a remote community on behalf of the Sandpiper Trust.

The Sandpiper Trust aims to save lives in rural Scotland by equipping trained, volunteer responders with Sandpiper bags which contain all the necessary equipment required in an emergency. Working with the Scottish Ambulance Service, Sandpiper responders are often the first to arrive at the scene of an emergency.

The small charity was set up by the family of Sandy Dickson, who died in a tragic accident when he was 14 years old. Since then, it has been instrumental in saving countless lives across some of the most remote areas throughout Scotland. The handover of its 1000th Sandpiper bag marks 15 years of funding and distributing Sandpiper bags to GP’s, nurses and paramedics. Each bag comes at a cost of £1,000 but is priceless to the families of those saved by a Sandpiper responder.

Supported by the Scottish Ambulance and Fire Service, the charity is very much an extension of the emergency services. Its work also wouldn’t be possible without support from BASICS-Scotland’s Dr. Colville Laird and Dr. Ewen McLeod, the charity’s medical advisers. An independent charity responsible for the provision of emergency training programs for doctors, paramedics and nurses, they are also responsible for the concept and development of the Sandpiper bag.

Speaking of Thursday’s presentation, which took place at Balmoral, Sandpiper Trustee, Claire Maitland MBE commented “I am immensely proud and extremely honoured that Her Majesty, who has been supportive of our small charity since it was founded in 2001, agreed to present the 1000th Sandpiper Bag on behalf of The Sandpiper Trust.

“The Queen has long been familiar with the importance of the work that Sandpiper does to support pre hospital care in rural communities throughout Scotland.

Claire continued “Accidents happen and it is vitally important that responders armed with the correct skills and equipped with the necessary emergency medical equipment can be alerted to medical emergencies or sudden illnesses in the quickest possible time. With 1000 bags now in the hands of local community volunteers, we have the best chance of beating the clock and saving lives which otherwise might have been lost. Our work would not be possible without our volunteers and fundraisers and so today we also celebrate with them.”

Her Majesty presented the 1000th bag to Dr Colville Laird, Clinical Director of BASICS – Scotland for delivery to Dr Jennifer Leigh, Kyles Medical Centre, Tighnabruaich.

The Sandpiper Trust has recently launched its biggest fundraising campaign to date. Sandpiper Wildcat will focus specifically on improving cardiac arrest outcomes in Grampian and aims to save 50 lives every year throughout the north-east by equipping volunteer responders with defibrillators.

Claire Maitland commented “In an emergency every second counts but with the chances of survival reducing by 10% every minute after a cardiac arrest, it’s vital that emergency care be administered quickly. In support of our Wildcat campaign, the Trust was delighted to have the opportunity to also present a defibrillator to the Balmoral Estate, which will be positioned in The Glenmuick Visitor Centre.”

Thursday, marked another more personal milestone for the Maitland family. In addition to Co-Founders Alistair & Penny Dickson, Claire’s husband Robin Maitland was also in attendance. Having taken ill in December 2014, Robin has been unable to return home and was accompanied by a nurse from Glen O’Dee Hospital where he is currently being cared for. His presence made the event that more momentous.

Gavin Hastings, OBE & Patron of the Trust stated “It was a privilege to attend the presentation and to celebrate with a family who have turned their own tragedy into such a positive vision.

Talking of his role he said “The greatest satisfaction to me is when I hear reports back from doctors of the lives that have been saved as a direct result of the Sandpiper equipment that they have been given. Today we are celebrating a major milestone, but tomorrow the works continues because, with community support, there are always more lives to save.”

Job Vacancy – Sandpiper Trust Administrator

Wildcat - re-starting hearts in Grampian

The Sandpiper Trust is currently looking for an Administrator to be based in the BASICS Scotland office in Aberuthven.

The post holder will have responsibility for administration of the Sandpiper Wildcat Project & administrative support to The Sandpiper Trust.

Responsible to: Project Manager, Sandpiper Wildcat Project

Hours: 35 hours per week

Based at: BASICS Scotland, Sandpiper House, Aberuthven Enterprise Park, Aberuthven, Perth & Kinross, PH3 1EL

Salary: Band 3 – £16.960 – £19,927 per annum

Fixed Term Contract – 2 Years

Main duties will include:

  • Provide administrative support to the Sandpiper Wildcat Project Manager and Paramedic trainers – co-ordinating all travel/accommodation bookings, collation of information & maintaining accurate records
  • Organising training sessions for volunteer responders including booking venues, liaising with Paramedic Trainers, communicating with volunteers and maintaining accurate records of training delivered.
  • Ordering equipment required for the Wildcat Project and maintaining accurate records of distribution.
  • Minute taking at Sandpiper meetings.
  • Printing and distribution of marketing materials including posters, flyers & brochures.
  • Accounts – manage donor information, banking cheques & cash, gift aid reclaims.
  • Fundraising support – events, online shop, distribution of collection cans and merchandise.
  • First point of contact for the Sandpiper Trust – email and telephone queries, opening mail.
  • Assist in all aspects of The Sandpiper Trust’s work undertaking other reasonable duties as required.


Download full job description here

Download person specification form here


Applications should be made in the first instance by emailing your C.V. to Keri Fickling at admin@sandpiperwildcat.co.uk

Alternatively you can post your C.V. to – The Sandpiper Trust, Sandpiper House, Aberuthven Enterprise Park, Aberuthven, Perth & Kinross, PH3 1EL

Two Western Riders take to the Great Glen in aid of Sandpiper Trust

Western riders, Sandra and Iain Loder from Aberdeenshire will be riding their horses along the Great Glen Way this August, from Fort William to Inverness in aid of the Sandpiper Trust . Iain (aged 13) and his Mum will be riding unaided for the 70 miles, which should take 5 days. All essential kit, including tent, sleeping bags, food, waterproofs!! and lots of midge spray!! will be carried on the horses. Iain will be riding an American Quarter Horse cross Appaloosa gelding called ‘Lucky’ and  Sandra is on her homebred Quarter Horse mare called ‘Chilli’. Sandra is a Western Equestrian Society approved instructor and backs and trains horses but both her and Iain are more used to showing their horses in the arena, not hitting the real outback trail, so this is a first for both and real expedition. They have had some trial runs, checking out the kit and making sure they carry only what is necessary to minimise the weight for the horses. Lets hope the weather is kind!

Look out for their just giving site, they need your support.

Robin Maitland

Robin Maitland, husband of Claire Maitland, trustee of The Sandpiper Trust and father to Harry, Cara, Anna and Jack has spent the last 6 months in hospital in a critical condition.  Our trustees meeting are not the same and we  hope that he will shortly be back in the re-hab unit in Aberdeen where we will be able to hold our trustees meetings in future.

The Maitland family feature massively in many of the early photos of Sandpiper bag presentations.  They took part in the very first Sandpiper Trust Fundraiser at the  6k run at Balmoral back in 2001.  They are all a huge part of this Sandpiper journey.  Robin’s wife Claire has been at the forefront of the charity and compiled both the “Cookery Book” and “The Swallow , The Owl and The Sandpiper”.  I would therefore think that it is safe to say that Robin has  tasted recipes and listen to prose and poems for a good few years, quietly giving advise when asked, supporting his wife, with her relentless enthusiasm for the charity but also being very much part of it all.

He is  thoughtful, funny and intelligent and we would like him to  be back very soon.

Aly & Penny