The first baby to be born in a Coastguard helicopter has stepped forward to claim her place in history, after worldwide media coverage of a new baby born on board a helicopter in Cornwall.
Baby Torran Macdonald was born on Saturday night (18th August) to an Inverness couple on holiday in the Isles of Scilly.
He was said to have been the second helicopter baby delivered with the help of Coastguard staff, but media coverage left out the trailblazer - a baby girl born in 1989 in the skies over Stornoway.
Kirsty Macleod of Locheport in North Uist arrived mid-flight on April 2nd 1989 as her mother Catherine was brought to Lewis Hospital from Daliburgh, above Stornoway on board Rescue 119, the then Coastguard helicopter.
The media error was spotted by former helicopter winchman Chris Murray, who dug out the original newspaper cutting and posted it online.
He said: “It seems to have been forgotten that baby Kirsty Macleod made an appearance over the Isle of Lewis flying from Uist in the Stornoway CG chopper on the 2nd April 1989. I hope you read this Kirsty as you were the first!”
But Kirsty, who runs a hand knitwear and crafts shop at Claddach Kirkibost in North Uist, was already on the case – she’d phoned in to Jeremy Vine’s programme on BBC Radio 2 to set their story straight.
Kirsty, 29, told We Love Stornoway today (Wednesday August 22nd): “I was listening to Radio 2 and they said the first baby had been born on a helicopter in 2012. I thought ‘that’s not right – it was me!’
"I was a wee bit outraged, so I phoned in and Jeremy Vine was confused. He told me they had the information in a press release, so I called the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) press office to correct them.”
Since then, says Kirsty, the story has ‘gone viral’, with a new wave of media attention and lots of personal messages. Kirsty is enjoying the attention, just as her family enjoyed being the Coastguard’s favourites when she was a child. At her birth the family were showered with gifts and in later years they were invited to Stornoway for tours of the helicopter base.
Kirsty said: “There was one time when I was about 10 years old and was playing on the football field outside our school, we heard the helicopter coming in so we cleared off the field. The helicopter landed and all the crew jumped out and ran across shouting ‘Hi Kirsty!’
"They’d seen me playing as they were flying over and just came down to say hello!”
On another occasion the helicopter celebrated a 1000-mission milestone by landing outside Kirsty’s house and picking up her whole family for a quick air-tour.
A Stornoway Coastguard spokesperson said: “Kirsty has always been a bit special to us because she was the first baby ever born in one of our helicopters. The second was born in 2012 in Shetland on a medivac to Unst and the most recent was the baby born down in Cornwall this week.”
Kirsty’s birth is a memory people well outside her family still treasure. Ambulance paramedic Roddy Macdonald, who was a Coastguard volunteer in Stornoway said: “I remember manning Goathill Football Park for the helicopter coming in to Lewis Hospital and the message: “Stornoway Coastguard, this is Rescue 119. Plus one to the POB (passengers on board). Over.”
And there’s no sign of interest waning – the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) have been back in touch with Kirsty asking whether they can do a special feature to celebrate 30 years since her birth when she turns 30 next year.
Pictures show Kirsty and her mum Catherine today