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Batonbearer Spotlight - Linda Anderson Kerr

Linda Anderson-Kerr
Feature

When the Queen’s Baton arrives in Scotland on 14 June 2014, it will be carried for 40 days, through 400 communities, by 4,000 inspirational people.

One inspirational batonbearer is Linda Anderson-Kerr from Oban, who couldn’t quite believe she had been selected to carry the baton throughout her community.

“I was over the moon to be chosen, but initially I thought somebody was teasing me! I was bowled over, I really was.”

Linda was nominated by her friend for her volunteering work with the Distance Highland Befrienders. The charity helps people who live in remote and rural areas, and who experience mental health issues or have dementia.

“I love remote and rural living, but it can test us at the best of times. Add on a mental health issue and you can feel not only geographically isolated, but socially isolated as well.”

The charity offers a befriending service with regular one-to-one friendly contact, either by telephone, letter or email. As Linda explains, this support can be crucial for carers too.

“I call a woman with dementia every week, who lives 150 miles away. Her daughter, who is her main carer, says when we speak it’s like she’s back to her old self, like she’s talking to an old friend. The carers need to be taken into account as well, and it means they can get a wee break.”

Linda is also in contact with a schizophrenia sufferer, who lives 200 miles away. She writes to her every week.

“To some people, it’s important just to have contact with somebody who isn’t part of the health profession, who is simply a friend communicating at a time of need.

“We’ve been in touch for nearly seven years now. When I joined the charity, they initially reckoned most friendships would last around 18–24 months. Some do last that long because it’s encouraged them to get out and meet other people, but it’s great that we can provide extra support and they have consistent social activity.”

Linda first got involved with Distance Highland Befrienders in 2007 as a way of giving back to her community. An incredible seven years on, Linda continues to have as much motivation for something she clearly holds close to her heart.

“I think in some ways I get as much benefit out of it as the people I befriend.

“One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives, and I hope somebody is there if it ever happens to me. That extra bit of support for people can make such a difference. It can change lives.”

Not only is Linda looking forward to her time as a batonbearer for the Queen’s Baton Relay. She’s also excited about the Games themselves, and will be spectating at the Athletics and Cycling Road Race events this summer.

“It’s great to have the Commonwealth Games in Scotland again, and a wonderful opportunity to showcase our country to the world. I can’t wait to be part of this wee bit of history.”
For now, Linda’s anticipation continues to grow and she is even being stopped in the street by well-wishers, to congratulate her for being selected as a batonbearer.

“It is exciting for me, but the reason I’m really thrilled is that all the fantastic work of the Distance Highland Befrienders is being highlighted. It makes me feel quite emotional and proud to have that recognised. It’s an honour and a half.”

The Queen’s Baton Relay returns to Scotland on 14 June 2014, after travelling a momentous 190,000 kilometres through 69 nations and territories of the Commonwealth. Find out how you can get involved in cheering on your local batonbearers.

The Glasgow XX Commonwealth Games are now over. This website is closed and for reference purposes only. Some external links may no longer work. For the latest news and information, please visit the Commonwealth Games Federation website.