The whole point of buying Barony St. John’s church in Ardrossan was to give a home to my charity and make a community connection.
Since it’s conception in 2013, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety has been lucky enough to have some inspirational people agree to be our Patrons –
Karen Darke is our Patron representing people with disabilities. She is a Paralympic cycling champion having won Silver in the 2012 London Paralympics road time trial H1-2 and Gold in the Rio 2016 Paralympics in the H1-3 time-trial.
Karen is also a two-time World Champion in Para-Triathlon and an avid adventurer having already hand-cycled across the Indian Himalayas, Cuba, Japan and the Tien Shan and Karakoram mountains of Central Asia. She has also sea kayaked the 1200 mile length of the Canada – Alaska coastline, spent a month traversing 600 kilometre Greenland ice cap and climbed the giant rock face of El Capitan in the USA’s Yosemite National Park – all accomplished despite being paralysed from the chest down.
Making reference to our charity, Karen commented; “I think the work which The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety is doing in the development of ‘Personal Safety for People with Disabilities’ courses is fantastic and I am delighted to be asked to be their Patron.”
Halah Al-Hamrani is our Patron representing people from black and minority ethnic groups. She is Saudi Arabia’s first female kickboxing and boxing trainer, fighting not only the stigma that women are the weaker sex and not suited for such a male dominant sport but also fighting gender inequality as a whole.
Halah trained in karate, boxing, Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai before setting up FLAG (Fight Like a Girl) Boxing on Instagram in 2013 and then opened the first female boxing gym in Saudi Arabia in April 2016.
Halah continues to show the world that women from any background, any culture, any country, can succeed and commented;
“I am delighted to support The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety and be a Patron for their ‘Personal Safety for Black and Minority Ethnic’ courses. I am glad that I am looked at as an inspirational Muslim woman, breaking the mold and proving that gender inequality can be challenged.”
As a Judo champion, Stephanie won her first Gold medal at the age of eight and since then has won several more including Gold in the English Open in 2013, Silver in the Samoa World Cup in 2013, Bronze in the Australia World Cup in 2014, and most recently Silver in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Commenting on her connection with the charity, Stephanie said; “I support the work which The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety does in the provision of personal safety, conflict resolution and practical self defence training, particularly their ‘Personal Safety for Women’ courses, and I am pleased to be asked to be their Patron.”
It was while taking a break from training earlier this year, just prior to taking part in the Rio Olympics, that Stephanie had a tragic accident which left her with a severe injury.
On the way to teach children English at a Vietnamese school, Stephanie’s skirt got tangled in the back wheel of the motorbike taxi she was on and she was thrown off head first. Her condition was described as “critical” and she was given a 1% chance of survival.
This is where her friend Khalid Gehlan stepped in.
Khalid heard of Stephanie’s critical condition and set up an online fundraising campaign to get Stephanie the medical treatment she needed and arrange for her to be brought back home. In just a few days, he had raised more than £300,000 and Stephanie’s life was saved.
After being brought back to Scotland, Stephanie was brought out of her coma, began talking and miraculously managed to walk again. She has now started back training and hopes to be fit enough to compete for Scotland in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Khalid explained why he felt compelled to help Stephanie; “I couldn’t bear to think of Stephanie dying before she had that chance to fall in love, have children, grow a family, travel the world and do all the things she wanted to do.”
An overall winner is chosen from the winners of each category and Khalid received a standing ovation as it was announced that he had won and was this year’s “Great Scot”. His saving of Stephanie’s life was described as “truly inspirational” by the judges led by former First Minister Lord McConnell.
But our inspirational connections don’t stop here.
Colin served with the Black Watch and lost his right leg and suffered severe burns to his stomach and face while trying to save a colleague who had fallen on a high voltage electric cable whilst in Kosovo in 2001. Colin’s heroic and selfless act resulted in him spending nine months in and out of hospital directly after the incident – and would see him attend hospitals on a regular basis to this day.
Obviously, his injuries meant that Colin could no longer be allowed to go on active duty but when he heard that his regiment was being deployed to Iraq in 2003, Colin refused to let his mates go without him so set about persuading Army chiefs to change their minds.
Colin clocked up the second fastest time ever for an 800 metre run by a military amputee and passed every test the military could throw at him so, reluctantly, they consented for him to go to the front line. Colin explained; “Being back with my mates is the best form of rehabilitation you can get.”
Colin’s selfless act in trying to save the life of his colleague followed by his bravery in the field of combat saw him not only win the “Forces Hero” award but also be named the overall winner and crowned 2005’s “Our Hero.”
As well as being our Chairperson, Deirdre also works full time as a Community Education Worker with North Ayrshire Council and is a volunteer with Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue Team.
She won the award for devoting almost all of her time to charity fundraising, raising over £20,000 in 2014 alone.
I cannot help but be inspired by these truly wonderful people and my charity is honoured to have a connection with them. 😀