Sconestone visits St Mirin’s Primary School in Glasgow

Hi, I am Anne-Marie Dunbar, one of the Principal teacher’s in St Mirin’s Primary School in Glasgow. Reverend Neil Galbraith very kindly allowed us to have the Sconestone in our school for the past week. All of the children in the school have had a chance to touch and hold the stone and have pledged an act of kindness, which they have written on an outline of a hand. A hand was chosen because we talk often about ‘helping hands’, we offer ‘a hand’ of friendship to others, at mass we shake hands with each other as a sign of peace and we place a hand on our heart when we make a promise.
All of these ‘hands’ will be displayed around the school to show our kindness and connection to each other.
The children and staff in the school have felt very privileged to have had this wonderful opportunity and have embraced the whole meaning of the stone in its journey of kindness.

The Kindness Tree initiative continues in West Hants County, Nova Scotia, Canada

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Over the years the Sconestone has passed through thousands of hands and inspired thousands of acts of kindness. The stone however seems to have a special effect when it passes through the hands of teachers and their school children.

In September 2009 the Sconestone visited the Hunter Primary School in East Kilbride, Scotland. The little school was renowned for its kindness and took to the Sconestone big time with every child touching it and pledging an act of kindness. What was especially touching was the creation of a Kindness Tree by one of the classes that created a bare cardboard tree and then filled it with leaves noting their acts of kindness for the week. A fantastic concept.

The Children of Hunter Primary School in Dundee, Scotland and their Kindness Tree

Again in April 2010, Carol Blair, the 23rd Keeper of the Sconestone created a Kindness Tree for her primary students in Halifax, Canada. Carrying on a wonderful tradition of encouraging our children to do acts of kindness and record it on a Kindness Tree.

In December 2012, the Sconestone landed in the hands of Burnadette Hunter a primary school vice principle in Cumbernauld, Scotland. Burnadette Hunter took the Kindness Tree concept one step further and got local businesses to donate a Christmas Tree and ornaments and then had her school children decorate the Christmas tree with Kindness Pledges written on each ornament. By the time Christmas passed the tree was full of kindness ornaments and Cumbernauld was certainly a happier place thereafter.

And now in 2013, here in West Hants, Nova Scotia we are taking the “Kindness Trees” initiative one step further and introducing it to the 10 schools in our district. So far we have 7 out of the 10 schools with their Kindness Christmas trees ready to let our children make our community a happier place one small act of kindness at a time.

Introducing Rod Dunn, the 42nd Keeper of the Sconestone

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Paul “Bazz” Barret, the 40th Keeper of the Sonestone explains in his own words why he passed the Sconestone onto Rod Dunn:

“I am passing the Sconestone onto my surgeon Mr Rod Dunn and his whole team who have not only changed my life but also changed the lives of so many injured service men and women who are going through the same experiences I have. The team consists of 2 surgeons Mr Dunn and Miss Alex Crick and a whole team of experienced and newly qualified nurses. I know that this is there job, however it is being presented for the things they do above and beyond their pay. Things like coming in on their days off to visit, a lot of the men and women who are miles away from home and isolated from family and friends and to know that you have people who make time for you when all alone is special. I believe that these small acts of kindness have aided mine and others rehabilitation to a more positive outcome, so to be able to present the Sconestone to Mr Dunn on behalf of the whole team, I can say a huge thank you and pass on this journey of special kindness within the Sconestone.

Introducing Sharon Laing, the 40th Keeper of the Sconestone

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Sharon Laing is our 39th Keeper of the Sconestone and works as the social worker at 45 Commando Royal Marines in Arbroath, Scotland. Sharon offers support and advice to both the serving and their families with issues ranging from depression, anger management, accident informing and rehabilitation.

In the words of Sharon, “The work I do at 45 can be challenging and everyday can bring something new. A big part of my work is to help with the rehabilitation of the injured and seriously injured including amputees. This can be a very long process of both mental and physical recovery but the one thing that never fails to amaze me is the positivity and courage of the men and their families. This recovery process is very often aided by Horseback UK and the extraordinary work they do.”

Sharon is clearly one of those rare people who dedicate themselves to helping others in need and is truly an inspiration to us all.

Introducing C.Sgt Paul “Bazz” Barrett, the 41st Keeper of the Sconestone

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Baz was born and raised in Salford, Manchester. A keen sportsman especially football, who played at a very high standard but unfortunately due to injury was unable to make it professional. Baz joined the Royal Marines on 4 July 1994 and trained and operated all over the world in all types of terrain.  He specialised in Mountain and Arctic warfare and completed all command courses to the rank he currently holds.

In December 2008 Baz was severely injured whilst on a routine foot patrol in Southern Afghanistan. The incident left him with major limitations including amputation of the whole right leg, loss of function to the right arm and has undergone approximately 50 operations on his road to recovery. After being told he would probably never walk again Baz has strived to prove and show that factors may change and that nothing is ever impossible. Baz was honored to receive the Sconestone from Sharon Laing (the 39th keeper), who has had a massive role in helping Baz along the road to recovery.

Baz says that his act of kindness is to help others that are in a similar position to himself and try to be a good friend and push himself further to show others that life is for living.

Emma Hutchison, the 39th Keeper of the Sconestone helps injured veterans feel the wind in their face again

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Emma Hutchison started the HorseBack UK charity in Aboyne, Scotland to provide a safe and secure environment to aid those serving, or those who have served in the UK armed forces. Emma was introduced to us by Scott Meenagh, a Scottish veteran who lost both his legs in Afganhastan. Scott could not speak highly enough of Emma’s work and the sense of feeling the wind on his face again as he mounted and rode horses for the first time at Horseback UK. In this photo you can see Emma working with injured paratrooper Ben Parkinson and their horse Archie. Many of the veterans visiting Horseback UK have suffered physical injury and/or acute stress as a result of their commitment to their country. Whilst combining western horsemanship, rural skills and adventure training, HorseBack UK endeavours to integrate serving personnel and veterans into the rural community inspiring a meaningful and rewarding future. Our previous keeper, Scott Meenagh, who lost both his legs in Afganhastan, can’t say enough good things about Emma and the how she helps injured veterans feel the wind on their faces again. We invite you to visit the Horseback UK website at www.horsebackuk.org.uk

Scott Meenagh receives “Overcoming Adversity” award at the Sun Military Awards

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry attend The Sun Military Awards

19th December 2011

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry paid tribute to Britain’s Armed Forces tonight as they attended the Sun Military Awards at the Imperial War Museum.

The night, also known as the Millies or Night of Heroes, was also attended by celebrities including footballers David Beckham and Frank Lampard, chef Gordon Ramsay, comedian Jimmy Carr, and television presenter Christine Bleakley.

The Duke and Duchess presented the award for Most Outstanding Soldier to Sergeant Ryan McCready, 26.

The Duke said: “This is a truly well deserved award. Sgt McCready, you exemplify to an extraordinary degree the unique qualities that make the British soldier second to none: courage, steadfastness, professionalism, sense of humour and a deep humanity.”

Sgt McCready, of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment, said he was “taken aback” by the award, which he dedicated to the three “fallen comrades” in his battalion.

Private Scott Meenagh won the award for Overcoming Adversity.

The 22-year-old, of 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, lost both legs to a Taliban mine in Afghanistan, and has since won medals at the Endurance Games in the US for water skiing.

Pte Meenagh, who was given his award by Strictly Come Dancing champion Harry Judd and show judge Alesha Dixon, said he was “overwhelmed” by the honour. Before presenting fundraising charity Walking with the Wounded with an award, Prince Harry gave a speech.  He said:  “It’s often said of our Armed Forces that they are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Well, I don’t entirely buy that. Ordinary people don’t run out under withering enemy rocket and heavy machine gun fire to rescue a wounded comrade. Ordinary people – a private soldier in this case – aren’t described by their platoon as being ‘the rock’ who held them together. “Ordinary people don’t brave monsoon conditions dangling on a winch line to rescue 13 people, each in turn. For that matter, ordinary people don’t put their lives on the line for distant folk, such as the Afghans, who need our help and are now turning their country round because of it. “

Introducing Scott Meenagh, the 38th Keeper of the Sconestone

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A FORMER soldier from Cumbernauld has been entrusted with a very special stone.

Less than two years ago, Scott Meenagh was a paratrooper serving in Afghanistan. While on active service he was injured in a bomb attack and lost both legs, and his best friend sacrificed his life saving Scott.

Such a tragedy would have seemed insurmountable to many, but following extensive rehabilitation Scott vowed to dedicate his life to helping others cope with similar trauma. He has raised thousands by participating in various sports events and also works with charity HorseBack UK.

“There are a lot of guys who end up on the couch after something like this,” said Scott.

“They can end up spending their days drinking and watching Jeremy Kyle. What the charity does is give people mobility and empowerment. As well as riding we teach people fishing, bushcraft and clay pigeon shooting, all of which get people outdoors and can lead to rural work placements.

Bernadette Hunter, depute head teacher at Cumbernauld Primary School, heard of Scott during her tenure as keeper of the Sconestone.

Press article on the Sconestone in Cumbernauld, Scotland

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Bernadette Hunter sent along this image of a news article written about the Sconestone in Scotland

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