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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

I was mauled by a big brown bear when I was six-years-old

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Glasgow resident Kimberley Staunton tells TFN the best way to evade a bear is to cycle fast, as she gets ready to undertake an epic fundraiser across her native Canada

I’m not sure how I first got into cycling. There was no seminal moment in my life – I had just got rid of my car, got a job more local and thought cycling the daily 10-mile commute made sense.

That was 10 years ago and since then I’ve become a cycling devotee. So much so I not only see it as a mode of transport but a big part of my life – and a great way to fundraise for the charities close to my heart.

This year however I’m going a step further. Come September myself and six other cyclists – all friends and family – are travelling down through Canada from north to south – and finishing in New York to raise money for three mental health charities.

We’ll start in the Northwest Territories, travel through Alberta and will finish in Ottawa. One caveat: we’re not cycling the entire journey. Our route is roughly 1,000 miles and will take us a month by the time we factor in travelling and days off.

It’s just not possibly to cover the entire distance – it would take around three months to do the whole of Canada, though initially we did consider this.

Cycling, I believe, has been a big factor in my recovery from depression

The inspiration behind the trip comes from myself. I gave up my job three years ago due to post-natal depression, which led to clinical depression, and have struggled with the illness ever since. I have a wonderfully supportive husband as well as a very beautiful daughter and I’m managing to cope by keeping busy and pushing myself where I wouldn’t normally go.

The illness never goes away; you are always either in depression or recovering from it. You’re never cured.

However if you compare how people with mental health problems cope today than, say, 30 years ago, there’s a very positive difference. People now speak up about mental health issues where before they were fearful of being lambasted, stigmatised – or even sectioned.

Cycling, I believe, has been a big factor in my recovery from depression. I started a cycling group a few years ago for people with depression and we continue to meet up every two months. All told there’s about 15 of us and we go long cycles – 50 miles and more – and do occasional fundraisers.

I've lived in Scotland all my adult life and currently live in Darnley, Glasgow. But I know Canada well: I was born there, living in various states until I was 14 and my onerous claim to fame is that I was mauled by a brown bear when I was just six.

My parents lived in rural Saskatchewan and bears were just part of life.

Sometimes they came too close. This one came into the garden and jumped on me as I played. I remember it vividly: it didn’t bite but its claws ripped through my clothes and the tendons in my arm. My dad chased it away.

Bears in Canada are a real concern. They tend to leave you alone but in more rural areas they’re not so used to humans. So the team will be briefed – though often it’s just down to how fast you cycle and making yourself look as untasty as possible.



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