Meet the Board
I am a Royal Marine Veteran with personal experience of living with PTSD.
I suffered a breakdown in February 2019 and was signed off from work. My rescue dog, Sam, who was a bit of a handful when I got him but has turned out to be an amazing dog, looked into my eyes and gave me a reaction that I'd never seen before.
I wanted people to feel the same emotions I feel when I am with my dogs, and benefit from their healing powers as I have, so in September 2020 I formed A Veteran's Best Friend. We are staffed entirely by volunteers and rely completely on donations - with your help we can start training our Assistance dogs and veterans in 2021.
Mick Cairns - Chair
My interest in supporting A Veteran’s Best Friend comes from having a son who is a Sergeant serving with the Royal Marines and a brother who was with the RAF Police for more than 20 years.
I studied Hotel Management at Robert Gordons in Aberdeen and then completed an HNC in Accountancy and Financial Management at evening classes, this led to 2 years in a local accountant.
I then spent 20 years working for a large financial institution completing various roles such as team manager in regulated and non-regulated areas before spending the last 5 years in a role of PMO preparing reports which the senior colleagues within the bank used to keep themselves informed on the strategic plans the bank had agreed at the beginning of the financial year.
I have become a keen gardener during lockdown growing vegetables for the first time, this year I am adding a few more varieties.
I will be looking for a couple of fund-raising ideas to complete to raise funds for AVBF towards the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, if I can complete Sleep in the Park and wake up with frost on my sleeping bag and do the Edinburgh Moonwalk (with my husband also wearing a decorated a bra) I will give most things a consideration.
Alison Kershaw-Stevenson - The Treasurer
I joined RAF in 1971. Joined RAF Mountain Rescue in 1977. Started with SARDA in 1988 training search dogs for mountain rescue. Completed 24 years in RAF. Completed 42 years in mountain rescue. I am currently a training officer for my current team . I have many commendations from RAF and was awarded chief constables commendation in 2009 followed by MBE in the same year and my search dog Driesh sadly passed away after receiving commendation by PDSA after saving 10 lives but went on to find another 3 people. As part of my team, I work as a first responder for ambulance service fire service and coast guard and police Scotland to help find missing people. I also externally assess search dogs and handlers from other USAR teams when requested.
I am also proud to say that I brought my grandson up who is a Royal Navy engineer on submarines. My father was in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.
I wanted to Join the A Veteran’s Best Friend Team because as a veteran myself I want to help veterans in any way I can. Dogs are therapeutic and it’s a good way to put something back into our ex military personnel who are struggling and I have enough life skills and I understand what it’s like to be in the military. With my medical qualifications and my suicide assist and now mental health first aid. All this can benefit our veterans who may be suffering.
Rod Stoddart MBE - Dog Training Lead & Our Ambassador
My name is John Allan Ferguson but known as Fergie. I was brought up on the west coast of Scotland in a town called Kilwinning.
I joined the RAF in March 91 where I travelled all over the UK and a 3-year tour in Cyprus at the Turkish border. I have completed 2 tours in Iraq, 2 tours in Afghanistan and 3 tours at MPA also completed 12 years on Mountain Rescue. I have completed 28 years of service I have received various commendations for my logistics work on Operations. I was injured in my tours of Iraq and Afghanistan but due to the nature and stubbornness meant that I didn’t get treated until 2017 where I was diagnosed with Functional neurological disorders which include partial paralysis down my
left side and extremely poor balance and osteoporosis of the spine. I left as a Sgt on full disability in 2020.
I have worked with dogs before in the Mountain Rescue and also ops I know the work and love and support they can give to anybody. The charity caught my eye as I have a seen the good that comes with people with PTSD or another similar type of disability and also the turnaround that the dogs can give to suffering veterans. I believe I can give something back and as the charity's secretary, I think I could do this.
John Allan Ferguson - Secretary