Posts tagged ‘Liz Lumsden’

20 May, 2014

Aching bones can’t thwart charity Highland trek

For the past few months, Liz Lumsden has been sharing preparations for her West Highland Way walk in aid of a RoSPA child safety project. Here, she blogs about the tough 50-mile two-day trek itself.

Liz (far right), Donald (centre) and friends at the start of the walk.

Liz (far right), Donald (centre) and friends at the start of the walk.

Not many people will walk 25 miles in one day – and then get up the next morning and walk another 25! For me, that was the biggest challenge. I have done walks before of a similar length, but always had a day to recover before going back to work. To repeat the experience on a second day was not easy.

My son Donald and I had agreed to walk 50 miles of the West Highland Way to raise funds for the printing and distribution of The Birthday Party, a children’s book about safety. RoSPA wants every child starting school in Scotland this year to get a copy.

We began at 7am on day one with a climb out of Crainlarich before the terrain flattened out for a while during the seven miles over to Tyndrum. After a coffee we headed off over to Bridge of Orchy in time for lunch. We needed it – the next stage was a real climb and ended up on Rannoch Moor – 10 miles of desolation – before the long walk down the mountains to the only hotel for miles – the Kingshouse. We could see it from it about three miles away and kept thinking about the bath and the hot meal that were waiting for us.

I ached from head to toe by the time I crawled (almost literally) into bed that night. I didn’t feel much better the next morning, but there was no going back. It wasn’t a very appealing thought to get started as the rain had been pouring down most of the night and had only eased off a bit by 8am.

The group reach the all important half way point and stop for a spot of lunch!

The group reach the all important half way point and stop for a spot of lunch! Well deserved we say!

Waterproofs on, we were ready to complete the challenge. After a fairly flat start we had to climb the Devil’s Staircase. It’s tough, but thankfully doesn’t last for long and the following section is mostly flat or downhill into Kinlochleven. The sun even came out for a while.

We were able to enjoy lunch in the sun before popping into a cafe in Kinlochleven for coffee and white chocolate “rocky road” (my favourite!). The sugar rush kept us going on the long climb out of Kinlochleven and down through the most amazing valley before the final slog to Fort William.

Like the previous day, we could see where we wanted to be long before we reached it. The last section of the West Highland Way is on surfaces that are very unforgiving and our bones started to really ache with about five miles still to go.

We walked with friends who were fundraising for other charities and had a real sense of achievement when we crossed the finishing line. We all had friends and family to meet us and were receiving text messages during the last few hours encouraging us to “keep going”.

Donald and I love to walk, but this was certainly his biggest challenge to date and he completed it suffering from only one blister (I managed to avoid having any – thanks to the amazing properties of Vaseline!).

I managed to exceed my fundraising target, but we still need money for the project. Every £1 raised will mean three parents can share home safety messages while reading The Birthday Party to their children. You can still donate at www.justgiving.com/elizabeth-lumsden2 or by texting WWHW50 £2, WWHW50 £5 or WWHW50 £10 to 70070.

1 April, 2014

Shaping up for a challenge to raise funds for RoSPA

Liz Lumsden is midway through training to walk the West Highland Way for RoSPA. In her latest blog, she tells how an injury threatened to derail the venture.

Liz takes in the fresh air during her walk.

Liz takes in the fresh air during her walk.

I’m just £1,000 away from being able to print and distribute 60,000 children’s books with a safety theme. I need the money by the end of May so they will be ready to give to children starting school in Scotland this summer. I’ve already sourced £15,000 for the project.

My son, Kenneth, and I have been training every week to complete a 50-mile trek to raise funds for this child safety project. Just when I thought it was going so well, injury strikes.

We’ve walked the first 27 miles of the Way together (as well as some local canal walks) and had some great mother and son bonding time. He’s not long moved back from London and it’s been great to spend so much time with him.

However, Kenneth started to feel a twinge in his knee after having done a few miles of walking down steep inclines. It was brave of him to insist he was going to be fit for our big walk on 25th and 26th April, but unrealistic.

During last week’s training along the canal out of Edinburgh, his knee became really sore. He had to get a lift home while I continued with the remaining 14 miles. So, the decision was made. He is really disappointed but there are only a few weeks left to get fit for the walk and we both knew it wasn’t going to happen for him.

Donald Lumsden

Donald Lumsden

What to do next? The walk still has to go ahead – we need the money to publish the book.

I didn’t relish the thought of completing this walk on my own. It will be over some very difficult – and remote – terrain.

I was telling my younger son, Donald, about his big brother not being able to join me and he “stepped up” and offered to complete the walk. This will be great. Donald’s done the West Highland Way before, albeit not covering so many miles in such a short period, but I am confident he can do it.

He is 16 and still growing so his comfortable walking boots are now too small. A new pair will have to be bought and broken in.

By the time you read this, we will have done the middle stretch of the West Highland Way over the weekend, covering around 12 miles.

During the following weeks we will take every opportunity to don our boots and get out so we are fit for this major challenge.

Thanks to all who have donated to this great cause. If you haven’t yet, please consider putting even a few pounds into the fund. Donald and I really need your support. Please visit my fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/elizabeth-lumsden2.

When we begin our walk for real, we plan to feed updates into RoSPA’s Facebook page so you can all follow our progress at www.facebook.com/rospa.

4 April, 2011

RoSPA’s blind cord campaign is extended in Scotland

Following the success of the Make it Safe pilot campaign in North Lanarkshire, I was delighted that we secured further funding to allow us to build on the original project and roll it out to new areas in Scotland.

We launched the Make it Safe campaign at the Saltire Centre in Glenrothes on March 21 and secured a decent amount of publicity. I did a couple of radio interviews and the detail of the project was covered in the local press.

On the day I was, of course, impressed by Fife Council’s commitment at a strategic level but what was really evident on the day was the support being given by those who are actually going to be in a position to speak directly with householders.

Many different types of practitioners can offer home safety advice to support the messages that organisations like RoSPA can highlight, but the messages are much more effective when someone is standing in your house saying: “Look, this is what I’m talking about.”

The people who are supporting the campaign in Fife are well-respected by those that they visit. As well as the council’s team of home safety advisers, it’s great to have health visitors, social workers, family support workers and public health nurses standing alongside local representatives of organisations such as Gingerbread and the Scottish Childminding Association. These dedicated people are all keen to ensure that families are aware of the danger posed by corded blinds – products that are probably installed in the majority of homes.

L-R: Sam Pairman (Fife Cares), Bob Arnott (Safer Homes Task Group), Elizabeth Lumsden (RoSPA), Margaret Caldwell (Public Health Nurse), Mark McCall (Fife Community Safety Partnership)

A key part of this campaign is that we can work with local partners to ensure that advice and education is given directly to the parent or carer, and where appropriate we can actually ensure that the cleats (to tie the cords around) are fitted properly. For example the Fife Cares Child Safety Scheme will provide home safety advisers to discuss the dangers posed by blind cords with parents and carers of young children. This award-winning initiative is part of Fife’s Community Safety Partnership and also provides other child safety equipment as part of a free service.

Fife’s launch last month was also attended by Margaret Caldwell, a public health nurse whose work with the Scottish Government has resulted in an estates and facilities alert issued across the UK to highlight that corded blinds are not only an issue in the homes of the general public but could also be a danger in health care premises such as health centres and doctors’ waiting rooms. It emphasised that risk assessments should be carried out in all premises where children have access and not just kept to those that are health service-related.

We’re really pleased that the expansion of the campaign is going so well, and that people seem to be taking the advice on board.

Elizabeth Lumsden

RoSPA’s Community Safety Manager for Scotland

17 March, 2011

Make it safe!

RoSPA’s blind cord campaign is being expanded in Scotland this month with an awareness-raising initiative rolling out to Borders, Fife and South Lanarkshire.

The expansion of the blind cord campaign, which distributes leaflets and cleats (around which blind cords can be tied), builds on a pilot project undertaken in North Lanarkshire last year. Further funding from the Scottish Government has made the roll out possible, and all three of the new projects will run for six months from April to September.

In North Lanarkshire, it was really encouraging to see that people were talking about the information they received through the project, and were helping to spread the word about the dangers of looped blind cords. We are hopeful that the three new projects, which are delivered by local partners, will have the same impact.

Work to raise awareness of the dangers of blind cords is not just ongoing in Scotland. My RoSPA colleagues in England are also distributing Make it Safe packs to organisations working with children in England, and individual members of the public from across the UK can also request them via the RoSPA website.

My colleagues report that there have been more than 46,000 requests for packs through this part of the campaign sign up now to receive yours.

Typically, we hear about one or two children dying after becoming tangled in blind cords in the UK each year. Tragically, 2010 saw an increase in the number of accidents.

We suspect that there are many near misses that are never reported, but this information would help us to better raise awareness of the issue, as well as telling us more about the circumstances in which such accidents can happen.

One such near-miss accident happened to Beth Clifford – but thankfully her mum got there in time. The experience shook the family up, and encouraged them to spread the word about the dangers of blind cords. You can read the family’s story on RoSPA’s website.

So what can you do to make your home safe?

RoSPA is currently working with the UK government, the blind industry and retailers to ensure that an amended European Standard to make new blinds safer (expected to come into force in the second half of this year) can be implemented with as much success as possible. Alongside this, the blind cord industry is also working with the British Blind and Shutter Association to try to develop blinds that work without looped cords – and some families are calling for a ban on the production of blinds with looped cords.

This is an understandable and admirable goal – but it doesn’t address the existing problem. This is where our awareness-raising campaign in Scotland, and the one on which my England-based colleagues are working, come in. There are 100million blinds in homes throughout the UK, and any ban will not affect them. So we need to make people aware of the dangers, and encourage families to tie the cords up out of harm’s way.

To reduce the risk posed by looped cords, including blind cords, cords should be kept out of the reach of children:

  • Install blinds that do not have a cord, particularly in a child’s bedroom
  • Do not place a child’s cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window
  • Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and kept out of reach
  • Tie up the cords or use one of the many cleats, cord tidies, clips or ties that are available
  • Do not hang toys or objects that could be a hazard on the cot or bed
  • Don’t hang drawstring bags where a small child could get their head through the loop of the drawstring.

RoSPA does not recommend that cords are cut, even as a short-term solution. It is advisable that any action taken on the blind cord is a permanent one which will take the cord out of reach of children. It is not an expensive task and a limited number of cleats are available to those who need them via the RoSPA website.

Cutting the cord in the wrong place can make the blind inoperable; and it may also lead to one cord becoming a lot longer which increases the risk of entanglement. Cut cords can also become tangled up resulting in the reformation of a loop.

The problem

Research indicates that most accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in the bedroom and occur in children between 16 months and 36 months old, with the majority (more than half) happening at around 23 months. These toddlers are mobile, but their heads still weigh proportionately more than their bodies compared to adults and their muscular control is not yet fully developed, which makes them more prone to be unable to free themselves if they become entangled. In addition, their windpipes have not yet fully developed and are smaller and less rigid than adults and older children, making them suffocate more quickly if their necks are constricted.

Visit RoSPA’s campaign pages for more information.

Liz Lumsden

Community Safety Manager for RoSPA Scotland

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