The Linda Butler Mercy Ship Bursary

Mercy Ships would like to extend a huge thank you to Oswestry Borderland Rotary for supporting one of our UK volunteer crew for a six-month period in Cameroon.

The club has been supporting nurse Melanie Langley (pictured right) through a brand new bursary, set up in memory of one of its members. Linda Butler (pictured left) was a nurse who specialised in recovery nursing, and she first heard about Mercy Ships at a talk at her Rotary Club.

Linda, a committed Rotarian, was so inspired by the talk that she decided to volunteer to serve onboard the Africa Mercy – first in Benin for two months in 2009, and then again in Sierra Leone for a month in 2011.

Linda was impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the staff on the ship, and surprised by the number of people who had walked for days to have the rare opportunity of surgery. She was also deeply moved by the stories of transformation that she witnessed onboard.

By volunteering on the ship, Linda played a vital role in improving the health and quality of life of people who would otherwise have had no chance of surgery. When she left Benin, Linda wrote: "I felt I have successfully played a small part within this amazing organisation."

Mercy Ships is incredibly grateful for Linda’s work and dedication. Not only did she volunteer on the ship, but she also gave several talks and presentations about our work after she had returned home.   

When Linda passed away unexpectedly in the summer of 2016, her Rotary Club wanted to commemorate her dedication to serving others. They set about raising money to provide funding to annually assist one or more local volunteers to join Mercy Ships.

The resultant Linda Butler Mercy Ship Bursary is awarded to a medical or non-medical volunteer who is prepared to devote a minimum of one month to serving with the charity. The first recipient of this bursary has been Melanie Langley.  

Melanie is working in Cameroon as an Ophthalmic Day Surgery Nurse in our Eye Team, and she is personally responsible for the pre and post-operative care of between 20 and 25 cataract surgery patients each day.

Melanie is a fundamentally important part of a team that has already provided free, sight-restoring operations to more than 1,300 patients during this field service. 

“This generous donation from the Oswestry Rotary Club has covered the payment of my entire crew fees for six-and-a-half months,” Melanie says. “As you can imagine, this donation has significantly reduced my personal expenditure, especially as I have vacated my rented accommodation in order to come to Cameroon, and I’m currently unaware what my employment situation will be on my return home.

“In tough times and difficult moments – yes, there are some of those – I reflect on this unexpected source of support and I am truly grateful to the Rotary Club. They have a saying here in Africa: ‘God is good, all the time!’”

Through this generous gift, Oswestry Borderland Rotary has played a significant role in enabling Mercy Ships to deliver an effective, efficient ophthalmic programme in Cameroon, and for that we are very grateful.

If your Rotary Club or community group is interested in providing a similar scheme, please contact us