LAST year Anne Mason from Coldingham got in touch with ‘The Berwickshire News’ after parcels she had collected to help children in Malawi went missing en route to their intended destination but after securing her compensation from the firm responsible, we’re pleased to report the story has a happy ending.
‘The Berwickshire’s’ interest in Anne’s case was enough for DHL to award her £3000 in compensation, which is now being used to fund a full-time nurse at a hospital in the country their charitable donations were intended for.
Anne’s interest in the plight of youngsters in the Third World country was ignited when her daughter Carole moved there to work and was heightened when she and her husband, Doctor Alan Mason, travelled over to see her and see for themselves the hardship the children experienced.
Anne described her time in Malawi as a life changing experience and it was the visit which prompted her and Alan to arrange a number of coffee mornings and collections to try and help the families and children they met.
The people of Coldingham got behind Anne and Alan’s charity mission and donated an array of clothes, toys and everyday items, which the couple sent over to Malawi at their own expense.
However, for one reason or another around 15 boxes of donations never arrived so after spending some time thinking how else she could make a difference, Anne was thrilled to learn last week that her £3000 which she selflessly donated in full to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre - Malawi’s second largest city - will allow the hospital to take on another paediatric nurse to look after the thousands of children who come through its doors each year.
Sharing her excitement with ‘Life’, Anne said: “I still can’t thank ‘The Berwickshire’ enough for helping to get me the compensation from DHL- it just shows what a local newspaper can do!
“It took a month or so for the money to come through and once we had received it we began discussions with Doctor Kennedy.
“He suggested that the thing they were most desperate for was nurses.
“We had seen this for ourselves when we visited and Carole often talked about this when she came home from her six months in Malawi.
“It was quite staggering to think that £3000 would pay a nurse for a year!
It took a long time to manage to send him the money- with problems with which bank accounts to send it etc so it was a big relief when I got email confirmation from him last week to say he’d finally received it.”
In his email to Anne, it was clear that Dr Kennedy and everyone in the Paediatric and Child Health Department at the Queen Elizabeth were massively grateful for Anne’s generous support.
It read: “Please let me assure you that this money will be well spent.
“We plan to use it to fund the salary for a year for one of our nursing staff through ‘FOSC’ – Friends of Sick Children.
“Although we see nearly 100,000 and admit nearly 28,000 children per annum, we are provided with only 25 nurses from the government. Government support has increased year on year, but is still well below that needed to maintain any sort of adequate service.
“Several years ago my predecessor (Prof Liz Molyneux) began FOSC as a charity to supplement the government staff.
“We now employ 20 nurses, and really couldn’t do without them. Your generous donation will fund one of these nurses for one year.
“Please pass on our sincere thanks to all the businesses and people in your community who have supported what we do here.”
Someone else who is quite staggered by Anne and Alan’s commitment to the cause is Carole, who having experienced what life is like in the country first hand, knows her parent’s contribution will go a long way.
“There is a huge need for more nurses at the hospital,” the paediatric registrar explained.
“Two or three nurses are responsible for at least a hundred children so one extra will make a big difference.
“As soon as you go out there you realise immediately how little everyone has.
“The care in the hospitals is very basic and they just don’t have the equipment and I think my mum and dad were quite taken aback by it when they came to visit.
“It was a real shame that the boxes didn’t get there as I know they and the people in Coldingham went to a lot of effort getting all the things together and my parents paid for the postage- which cost a fortune- with their own money.
“They were both so disappointed that the boxes got lost and were determined to make a difference another way. It’s amazing that they donated the compensation money from DHL without a second thought.”