District Conference Report – 9 October 2018
The annual District Conference, held this year in Stirling on 6 and 7 October, was attended by President Colin and club Secretary (and ADG) Craig. Both gave an excellent roundup of the weekend activities and provided a moving report on the contributions by several speakers on the theme “Overcoming Adversity”.
The line-up of speakers comprised those who had themselves experienced, or had been close to those who had experienced, traumatic and life-changing events of different types. All delivered polished and awe-inspiring accounts.
The speakers were:
Olivia is a quadruple amputee who has previously spoken to our club. A successful lawyer prior to contracting meningitis, and after travel in Africa, Olivia was inspired to set up her charity 500 Miles in order to provide help and prosthetic limbs to amputees and injured people in developing countries. She considered that 500 miles having once been her ‘baby’ had now developed into ‘an unruly teenager’!
Donald is the uncle of Eilidh MacLeod, the Barra teenager who was killed tragically in the Manchester Arena bombing. He paid an emotional and heartbreaking tribute to his young niece whose death has devastated the islanders. Eilidh’s life is being commemorated in various ways on the island.
Whilst working for British Airways as an Engineering Apprentice in 1977, a road accident resulted in spinal injuries which took Martin to Stoke Mandeville for rehabilitation where he was introduced to wheelchair sport. Since then he has played for Great Britain in Paralympic competition in both wheelchair basketball and tennis events. Martin is Chief Executive of WheelPower – British Wheelchair Sport – at Stoke Mandeville where he has worked in a variety of roles since 1987.
Doug was the first Briton to officially scale Everest. He is regarded as one of the world’s leading high altitude and big wall climbers and is perhaps better known for surviving an unplanned bivouac with Dougal Haston 100 metres below the summit of Everest, without oxygen, sleeping bags and, as it turned out, frostbite. Scott founded the charity Community Action Nepal (CAN) to help Sherpas and their families and spends much of his time fundraising for this cause, regularly visiting some of the 60 CAN projects in Nepal.
Vicky and Nigel run a recently-founded charity called Smileawi which was set up to help improve desperate dental services in Northern Malawi. Based in Dunoon, they visit Malawi every year with groups of self-funded dental professionals and provide free, pain clinics to the rural populations. They support underfunded dental therapists who they have met in Northern Malawi by providing them with equipment, materials and tools and run an annual conference to bring them together for educational purposes. They help to fund training for new dental therapists and promote oral health through prevention and education at clinics and in schools.
It came as a devastating shock to Paul Kerr, as a Royal Marine Commando, when he was diagnosed with MS. He has dealt with that shock by continuing to lead a very active life and by writing his autobiography. He has completed the UK’s 24 hour Three Peaks Challenge and has launched and competed in the successful Clyde Charity Swim to raise money for the MS Society.
Frank is a Scottish judge who has held high office including Lord Advocate and Solicitor General. His talk, entitled ‘Cold Cases’, concerned the fight for justice through an amendment to the ‘double jeopardy’ law in 2011 in the case of Angus Sinclair (‘World’s End’ murderer), and the crimes of serial killer Peter Tobin and John Leathem (killer of Dumbartonshire schoolgirl Paige Doherty). An accomplished speaker, Frank intrigued his audience despite the gruesome subject nature.
Both Colin and Craig felt it had been a humbling and motivational two days and Craig considered it the ‘best-ever’ conference programme he had experienced.
Kenneth Dickie gave a short vote of thanks to Craig and Colin.