The co-founder of a lifesaving north-east charity is hoping a new book of poems and passages can provide comfort to people who have suffered a loss.
In 2009, The Sandpiper Trust published The Swallow, The Owl And The Sandpiper, a collection of words offering “courage, wisdom and spirit”.
Since then, it has made its way to bookshelves and nightstands across the world, including homes in Africa, Alaska and Australia.
Co-founder Claire Maitland lost her husband Robin, who also set up the charity, to a mystery illness in 2019.
She is now compiling a second volume in the hope of offering solace to others in a similar position.
“It’s quite humbling how many people the book has helped, and how many continue to contact me to say it’s beside their bed and they dip in and out of it frequently,” she said.
“I lost my husband a year-and-a-half ago, and I find this helps me.
“And I know it helps other people who send me stuff, it’s all about reflection.”
‘Making someone feel just a little bit better’
All of the proceeds from The Swallow, The Owl And The Sandpiper, available via the charity’s website, go towards the supply of lifesaving Sandpiper Bags.
Each contains more than 50 pieces of medical equipment, including syringes, slings, heavy-duty scissors and neck collars, and more than 1,250 have been handed to volunteers GPs, paramedics and nurses throughout the country.
Armed with a Sandpiper Bag, it allows them to quickly respond to emergencies and begin treatment on causalities in areas where ambulance response times are long or a doctor’s skills are required.
Mrs Maitland is asking for contributions to the new book, encouraging people to share the passages which help them in difficult moments.
She said: “I am looking for a person’s special piece of prose they turn to when the going gets tough.
“And there are some hidden poets out there, if anyone would like to compile their own poetry about loss or grief or just struggling through a hard time – what helps them and what makes them happier.
“It’s also quite a good little project for children who enjoy writing poetry or little stories, with examples of kindness and looking after one another, and what gets them through tough times.
“It’s all about making someone feel just a little bit better.”
Book project ‘is not going to be easy’
The first book, which is sold on the Sandpiper Trust website for £12, features a poem selected by the Queen as well as words from patron and former Scotland rugby international Gavin Hastings.
Mrs Maitland added: “There were prayers and a touch of humour, and deep, meaningful passages.
“My challenge is to make the second book as good as the first, which is not going to be easy.”
Those interested in contributing to the publication can email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a voicemail at 01330 844606, and submissions can be left anonymous.
“Working alongside the ambulance service, our volunteers respond to thousands of calls annually,” she said.
“Many people’s lives have been saved with Sandpiper equipment – and will continue to be.
“Like every charity, we’re down 75% on our income but everyone is in the same boat.
“Hopefully with this new book we’ll be able to raise more funds and help these guys out there.”