Ian Rankin’s visit to our radio station was a real thriller – Colin Leslie

Ian Rankin spoke about his own mental health and some of the struggles he has encountered in life while sharing his own ' and Inspector Rebus' - favourite tracks at Radio Stafford 103
Ian Rankin spoke about his own mental health and some of the struggles he has encountered in life while sharing his own ' and Inspector Rebus' - favourite tracks at Radio Stafford 103
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The world-renowned crime writer and music lover made a big impression at the Stafford Centre, writes Colin Leslie

Support in Mind Scotland is proud of all of its projects, and as a charity it always gives us great pleasure to invite the public through our doors to see our work first hand. So when we heard that Ian Rankin was coming to pay us a visit at our Edinburgh service, the Stafford Centre, we were thrilled.

Colin Leslie, Communications & Fundraising Manager, Support in Mind Scotland

Colin Leslie, Communications & Fundraising Manager, Support in Mind Scotland

As anyone who has read Rankin’s books or heard him interviewed before will know, the world-renowned author is also a huge music lover, and when he used his sleuth-like powers to discover that we have our very own mental health radio station, a guest DJ invite was promptly offered his way.

Rankin has appeared twice before on BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs, sharing a select batch of treasured songs with the nation, but this two-hour slot on our station, Radio Stafford 103, allowed him to be far more expansive. In a compelling show, he treated our listeners to not only his personal favourites, but those of his most famous creation – Inspector John Rebus.

Watching The Detectives (Elvis Costello) was an obvious choice, but the Rankin & Rebus double-act cobbled together an eclectic, entertaining playlist which included artists like The Beatles, The Who, Rolling Stones and a sprinkle of Scottish talent, including the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Dick Gaughan, Jackie Leven and Blue Rose Code.

Rankin was joined in the DJ booth by our own presenter, Mike Stakey aka ‘Lord Sir DJ MOG’, and it was refreshing to hear the writer talk so openly about his own mental health, and some of the struggles he encountered in his life before he found fame as a writer.

“My wife was a huge help in helping me understand what I was going through and coming out the other side,” said Rankin. “Even now I get the occasional panic attack but I know what to do. When you have your first one you’re terrified and you think you’re dying. Now I know, oh that’s what that is, and this is how I deal with it.”

Perhaps it was the inspiring surroundings that helped Rankin open up so candidly. The Stafford Centre is a hive of activity and prior to his DJ set, the author was given a guided tour of the building and spoke of his admiration for the compassionate and expert support our charity provides for some of the most isolated people living in our communities.

As well as gaining an insightful glimpse into the activities that take place, including our music group, creative group and radio project, Ian warmly engaged with staff and service users. It is often during conversations with visitors to the Stafford Centre that we are reminded just how valuable our work is.

Some of the people who access the centre were reluctant to even speak to another person when they first set foot in the centre, and yet here they were chatting away happily to a celebrity, posing with him for selfies, and asking for their books to be signed. Ian was only too happy to oblige.

Many of the people we support are on a journey of recovery due to their experiences of living with mental illness and our ethos is always about helping people along the way so that they can find their voice and self-confidence. The Ian Rankin visit was the perfect opportunity for some to show just how far they have progressed, and they have also taken great pleasure in shouting from the roof-tops that they shared an afternoon with someone so famous!

The day Rebus rocked up to our radio station was the beginning of an exciting time for the Stafford Centre. On Sunday, a group of runners and walkers led by one of our Charity Ambassadors Jenny Hastings set off from the venue to support our annual fundraising and mental health awareness campaign, the 100 Streets Challenge.

Jenny’s husband Scott may have been nearly 6,000 miles away in Japan, where he is working at the Rugby World Cup as part of the ITV commentary team, but it didn’t stop him taking on the challenge from afar while also doing his bit to support the cause on social media.

This year’s 100 Streets Challenge closes today and will be back in April, but it has once again generated many positive conversations around mental health, while raising vital funds for services like the Stafford Centre. If Ian Rankin returns to the centre for the second instalment of his playlist, we will be sure to offer him a 100 Streets T-shirt to go with the Sensational Alex Harvey Band one he wore on this occasion!

You can listen again to Ian Rankin’s playlist here.

Colin Leslie, Communications & Fundraising Manager, Support in Mind Scotland