Competition funds helpful manikin

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THE winners of a nationwide competition, organised by the Borders Writers Forum and aimed at combating child illness, will be announced at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose on Saturday.

Writers from across the UK were invited to submit a prose piece or poem inspired by the theme “illness and the child”.

The entry fee was a donation to the Edinburgh Sick Kids Friends Foundation (SKFF) which is trying to raise £30,000 to buy a new Laerdal SimJunior – a computerised simulator manikin which can be programmed to react as a young child with a wide range of medical conditions.

A similar piece of kit, the SimBaby, was bought by the foundation two years ago and has been used, not only at the city’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children hospital, which receives more than 10,000 patients each year, but in other hospitals including the BGH.

Dr Graeme Eunson of the BGH’s child health department said the kit gave his colleagues a chance to practise specific scenarios realistically.

“All the staff involved in the sessions found the SimBaby simulator provided by the SKFF to be very useful as it helps you practise and prepare in a supported training environment,” he said.

“If you face the same situation in real life, you are inevitably better prepared. “It keeps staff honed and up-to-date in terms of diagnosis and the treatment of conditions which may be seen only rarely.”

The writing competition has been judged by Ian Campbell, professor of Scottish and Victorian literature at Edinburgh University, and Scottish writer of fiction and poetry Ron Butlin.

The winning entries will be read out in the festival’s Lochcarron Marquee in the gardens of Harmony House on Saturday from 4.45 till 5.45pm.

During the event, Professor Campbell will talk about the competition and the art of writing, and Maureen Harrison, director of the SKFF, will speak about the work of the foundation since it was formed in 1992.

Funded entirely from public donations, the SKFF has bought vital equipment over and above NHS provision to ensure extra comforts for young patients and their families, support for children in the community and funding for training and research.

“We are delighted to have been able to facilitate a competition in which writers from across Britain, as well as Ireland and France, have used their skills to help children in Scotland,” said Oliver Eade of the Borders Writers Forum.