After eight years of winning silver medals at the British Transplant Games, and having to be content with second best, Clovenfords granny Hilde Paxton has finally struck gold.
The 69-year-old had a liver transplant nine years ago and turned to archery among a series of therapeutic sports and pursuits designed to help her recovery.
Hilde has competed at the British Transplant Games since 2011 and built up a formidably consistent record, despite never quite landing the big prize.
But that all changed last week at Newport in Wales, where her overall points tally was enough to secure first place, despite soaring record temperatures.
“I was quite chuffed with it,” she said. “It was fair and square. I had really waned with the weather but it probably affected everyone else.”
Hilde said she never had time to join an archery club but would maybe consider doing so now and explore the intermediate and experienced levels of the sport, as well as a possible return to another of her favourite sports, lawn bowls.
In previous years, Hilde was very fond of long-distance walking and took part in South Africa, Peru, France and the UK, including the Southern Uplands Walk. She also worked as a police officer for 15 years.
However, as we reported last week, she fell ill soon after her 60th birthday and the birth of the first grandchild for her and husband Jim.
She was later diagnosed with jaundice and had a shock to her liver, eventually becoming fully unconscious while awaiting a transplant.
However, a match for her kidney was found a week later and Hilde’s life was transformed forever, following a successful full liver transplant.
Organ donation and the ‘gift of life’ have since seen her welcome three further grandchildren into the world and complete a full recovery, becoming active once again.
It was only a year between her transplant and Hilde’s first British Transplant Games, at Belfast in 2011.
Lots of people take part in games when recuperating from transplants, said Hilde, as it was so therapeutic and gave them a focus.
The benefit of organ donation and ‘the gift of life’ – which she now enjoyed so much – was symbolised by the 1000 athletes and 1500 other people at Newport for the UK Transplant Games.
“From the smallest children to folk in their 70s, it is such an inspiration to see the effort they have to put in,” added Hilde.
Many had walking frames or wheelchairs but were tackling physical challenges, having previously been “at death’s door”.
Donor families were also there to see how their sad loss had enriched someone else’s life. “It’s the donors that make the difference,” added Hilde.
A part-time time tourism steward with Historic Scotland at Melrose Abbey, Hilde hopes to stage a fashion show in Galashiels in November to raise funds for the transplant team in Edinburgh and south east Scotland.
Understandably, she’s looking to take part in the next British Transplant Games and hopefully retain her gold medal placing, at Coventry in 2020.
The Games are organised on behalf of Transplant Sport, a charity which raises awareness of the need for and the benefits of organ donation.