Since the Brexit vote, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been busy making new friends for Scotland in Europe.
However, last week she met a Carluke woman who has already been doing that since long before the rerefendum.
She is 63-year-old former district nurse Innes Mathers who, entirely off her own bat, came out of retirement to go to the Mediterranean to help tend to many of the thousands of desperate refugees fleeing to safety from war-torn North Africa.
That very personal act of compassion for total strangers from lands many hundreds of miles from her home has rightly won her many admirers, among them Clydesdale’s MSP Aileen Campbell who nominated her our area’s official ‘Local Hero’.
This accolade brought with it an invitation to last week’s opening of the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament and a personal “thank you” on behalf of the Scottish people from Nicola Sturgeon.
Her host for the day and her nominator as Clydesdale’s Local Hero, was Aileen Campbell.
She said: “We had a smashing day at parliament as we celebrated the start of the fifth session.
“Every MSP gets to nominate a local hero to take part and I felt Innes was the right person to take part. She has made Clydesdale proud with her voluntary work in the refugee crisis.
“It’s a great privilege as an MSP to be given this opportunity to recognise the work of our local heroes. This is our chance to say thanks to them and to so many others who work tirelessly to make our society better.”
During her mercy mission to Lesbos, Innes worked at the Hope Centre, a former hotel converted to help refugees. She later recounted how she saw mainly families from Syria and Iran land on the coastline but she expressed fears about those who had not made it to land.
“We don’t know what’s at the bottom of the Aegean Sea because not all the overturned boats have been reported.
“Nobody knows how many there have been - people are just desperate.”