A MIDWIFE who worked tirelessly to help poor mothers in Malawi has been appointed OBE as she revealed new plans to pass on the baton of her successful charity.
Shocking photos of dead babies left on shelves while mothers were in agony at a government-run hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, spurred Linda McDonald into action to prevent the hundreds of avoidable deaths occurring among mothers and babies in the country.
Linda, of Corstorphine, set up the charity Malawi Underprivileged Mothers (MUMs) in 2005, which sells recipe books to raise funds to enhance maternity care at the hospital.
The 55-year-old, who works as a midwife at the Simpson’s maternity unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, said: “Seeing these photos, I just couldn’t believe women were still dying preventable deaths like this. That’s when I decided to go to Malawi and start raising money. It was quite a shock, the gaps between the haves and the have-nots were so extreme.”
Linda has now made nine visits to the south-east African nation, which has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, as well as raising more than £600,000 in the UK for the charity.
Over the last decade, the charity has contributed £100,000 to a new high-risk maternity wing, given £25,000 to help prevent mothers transmitting their HIV infection to their children and set up six feeding stations now feeding more than 600 pre-school children every day.
Now Linda has decided to pass on the work of MUMs to other charities. A partnership is in place with anti-hunger charity Mary’s Meals to take on the established feeding programmes. MUMs will also work with West Lothian charity Smalls for All, which provides underwear for women and children in impoverished countries, to continue to deliver the education aspect of the charity’s work.
The grandmother-of-two said: “After ten years I think it’s good to have some new ideas and I am thrilled these charities are going to be involved.
“I’m at a point in my life where I need to focus on other things.
“I couldn’t be happier to be working with both charities.”
Linda’s OBE was announced as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June, alongside a string of other Lothian charity heroes.
She received her OBE from Princess Anne last Tuesday at Buckingham Palace, where she was joined at the ceremony by her husband Iain, 67, and daughters Katie, 30, and Sally, 26.
Linda said: “I was absolutely delighted when I found out, though I have no idea who nominated me. It’s been quite a thing.”
She added: “It was a wonderful experience going to Buckingham Palace.
“Princess Anne was lovely, she speaks to everyone and she asked me lots about Malawi.”