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Dysautonomia sufferer from Forres raises more than £7000 for STARS charity via book lending service at Co-op

By Garry McCartney

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Jane and Co-op team leader Graham Hilditch at the lending library she runs at the Forres High Street store.
Jane and Co-op team leader Graham Hilditch at the lending library she runs at the Forres High Street store.

A FORRES woman has now raised more than £7000 for a charity that helps people with her unusual illness.

Jane Bateson has dysautonomia – a rare condition that affects the heart and the nervous system – and has been running a donation-based book lending service from the Co-op on High Street since 2017 to raise funds for the STARS (Syncope Trust and Reflex Anoxic Seizures) group.

Jane's STARS certificate.
Jane's STARS certificate.

STARS sent Jane a certificate and their gratitude for reaching the milestone.

Jane said: “I was thrilled to bits when I heard from them. Thanks to the generosity and support of our community and lovely, friendly Co-op, we’ve raised over £7000. Not a bad result from unwanted books and a donation-only policy. When I first started to raise funds, I thought it would be great if I could reach £100. My aim is now to reach £10,000.”

Dysautonomia causes Jane’s blood pressure to drop when she is standing, so she tries to avoid situations that involve standing for too long. Her blood pressure also drops after she eats and after exercise. Jane is unable to regulate her temperature – becoming overheated can cause her to faint. She is strongly affected by the cold and her natural body temperature is low. Jane manages her blood pressure with medication. She regularly walks with her dog and controls her diet, eating small meals with low, white carb content. She also consumes salt to keep her fluid levels up.

Jane came across STARS by default: “I was searching for information about my symptoms when I came across their website www.heartrhythmalliance.org/stars/uk/. It made me realise that I was not on my own and that there are treatments plus specialists who can help. I rang STARS on Boxing Day and didn’t expect an answer but the charity’s founder, a lovely lady called Trudie Lobban, did!”

She added: “Through STARS, I discovered specialist consultants and was sent informative leaflets, which I still have a good selection of in the Co-op. They cover a wide range of conditions, including falls, heart arrhythmia, reflex anoxic seizures and pacemaker advice.”

Jane's library is set up at the High Street Co-op.
Jane's library is set up at the High Street Co-op.

Jane collects unwanted books and places them near the Co-op checkouts with a collection tin. Shoppers are encouraged to make a donation when they borrow a book.

“I have dealt with hundreds of books over the last four years,” she said. “Some of them I pass on to the recycling centre. The lending service was briefly closed down due to covid-19 precautions. However, I kept collecting books at home from all directions – house clearances, house moves, even from up north and the islands.

“I must have well over 1000 filling my bookcases and spare bedroom! I have been up and running again for about six weeks.”

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