Mercy Ships
Linda Butler
Linda Butler trained as a nurse at Charing Cross Hospital, London and became a surgical ward sister there in the 1970s. After a career break when her three daughters were young she returned to work at the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, Oswestry where her husband Robin is a consultant rheumatologist. She specialized in recovery nursing in the operating theatre unit where she became nurse manager.

She had Joined Rotary International and heard about Mercy Ships when a speaker visited the club and gave a presentation. Since young adult life she had had a desire to do some nursing in Africa but family commitments had taken precedence. By then her daughters had left home and she decided to investigate further and went on a Mercy Ships introductory trip to Holland. She negotiated a period of unpaid leave from the hospital and spent two months working for Mercy Ships in Benin in 2009 and later a month in Sierra Leone in 2011. After her return she gave a number of presentations about her experiences on the ship which resulted in donations to further the work of Mercy Ships.

She was impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the staff on the ship and the supporting imaging and pathology services. She was surprised by the number of people who had walked for days to have the opportunity of surgery and the efficiency of the triaging system. She was shocked at how relatively straightforward problems like hernias and benign soft tissue tumours could result in marked disability and deformities when left untreated. She saw the successful results of eye, orthopaedic, complex head and neck surgery and that for maternal complications of childbirth. She was glad that she had had the opportunity to play a role in vastly improving the health and quality of life of people who would have had no chance of surgery in those countries without Mercy Ships. As she wrote when she left Benin: "I felt I have successfully played a small part within this amazing organisation".

Linda Butler passed away unexpectedly in June 2016. She was a committed Rotarian who epitomised the Rotary ideal of “Service Above Self”. Her fellow Rotarians in the Oswestry Borderland Club wanted to commemorate Linda and set about raising money to provide funding to annually assist one or more local volunteers to join mercy ships for a tour of duty. The Linda Butler Mercy Ship Bursary will be awarded to a medical or non -medical volunteer who is prepared to devote a minimum of one month on one of the Mercy Ships.

It is not intended that the Bursary should provide all of the volunteer's travel or living expenses. Rather that it will assist them in becoming a volunteer and allow people who would like to help Mercy Ships, but may not have the financial resources, to do so. Borderland Rotary currently has funds available to assist a number of candidates who may require assistance in the coming months and others in the future. The club intends to continue raising funds each year to support Mercy Ships so as to remember and commemorate Linda.

In view of Linda's nursing background Borderland Rotary would like to provide the bursary to a nurse or nursing assistant, but realise this may not always be possible. In the summer of 2017 Melanie Langley was identified by Mercy Ships Volunteer Officer as a potential beneficiary of the first beneficiary award. The members of Oswestry Borderland Rotary where extremely impressed by Melanie’s dedication and commitment to Mercy Ships and unanimously agreed to support her in her upcoming 6 month tour on Mercy Ships.
We have a new Mercy Ships candidate in 2018.
My name is Elizabeth (Lizzy) and I am flying to Guinea to join the crew on the Africa Mercy Ship.

I live in Chester and work in Liverpool as a paediatric nurse.

My dream since before qualifying as a nurse has been to go and work in Africa and this December that dream is coming true.
Our first email from Lizzie.
I just wanted to say hello and touch base. I’m sorry I didn’t manage to come and visit Oswestry Rotary Club before leaving for Africa but I will come and say a big hello and thank you when I return.

I arrived yesterday and it is all go go go. I’ve created a blog so I people can be updated with life out here and I thought it would be a nice way for people to see what I’m up to and how I’m getting on. —

Mercy Ships blog

Thank you again for your massive support financially, it’s a huge blessing not having to worry about my crew fees and seeing how it helps the organisation is great!
One of Melanie's informative emails (2017)
Hello everyone!
I am now entering my final 2 months. As of yesterday, I have 8 weeks left. The cataract surgeries are continuing at approx. 15 patients per day. I heard last week that we have operated on our 1,000 cataract patient. Feels like 10,000 sometimes!

I have had my usual medical problems to deal with (diabetes, high blood pressure and a handful of dressings). You may remember several months ago that a patient came with an undiagnosed broken leg, who we had to send to the local hospital.

They came back this week for their rescheduled cataract surgery with plaster cast insitu which is due to be removed next week sometime.
They were delighted to have their operation at last. Glad they made it back again. Surgery slots are now almost full. We also had French media following the Eye Team for the week.

They filmed just about everything - primary screening, secondary screening, in the eye room, theatre, post-op, our Team meeting on a Tuesday evening and also in Glenn and Kim's cabin!

It was difficult at times when there is a camera permanently present, it can feel quite intrusive, but I think they were happy with the footage. Wednesdays inservice was a talk on Plastic surgery, concentrating on skin flaps and grafts.

There was no Celebration of Sight this Friday as 6 weeks previously was the Christmas fortnight, so no surgeries were performed - therefore no patients 6 weeks later.
It was an extra day off for me, but put to good use as I was on 'cabin cleaning duty' this week, so at least I managed to get that done while most of my cabin mates were out at work.

Off to Mass again this morning. Kevin is back from his training in Yaoundé, so the four of us went to Mass.

It is Tracey's last weekend, she goes home to the USA next week after a brief stopover in the UK.

We decided to get a taxi back as Mass was a little longer than usual - but had to first figure out how to get in it when there are no door handles!!!!! (there was string inside that opened the door for you!!!)
I have attached a couple of photos of some of the previous Celebrations of Sight. They are quite random and not from the same day.

I wanted to send some film of the dancing so you would get a feel of the atmosphere, but these 'movies' are too large to send as an attachment.

Hope everyone is ok. Thank you for your replies to my emails.

Take care


Borderland Rotary