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.”