My mother will be flying from Durham to Bordeaux via Schiphol this month: arrive Schiphol 12.35, depart 14.20. Any tips please on how to make the connection go smoothly? Does she need to go to a Transfer desk and are these clearly signed? Will she need to change terminal?
She is a sprightly 77 year old and doesn't require special assistance.
Your mum will be arriving in the Non-Schengen part of the airport, so will need to pass through passport and security checks in order to reach the gate in the Schengen part of the airport, where the onward flight will depart from.
She should have been issued with both boarding passes at check-in in Durham. It's unlikely, though, that the gate number for the Bordeaux flight will be known, and it's always possible that this has changed. There are numerous departure monitors where she can check where she needs to go, and Schiphol is well signposted so it's one of the easier airports in which to transfer. There are several transfer desks (though they tend to prefer to wave you off to the blue KLM self-service transfer/connection machines) should she require assistance, but I think it's unlikely that she will.
Amsterdam is more-or-less a single terminal layout, but there can be large distances involved, depending on which pair of gates are in question. Most of the corridors have travelators, though, so it makes getting around less challenging/daunting.
2014: AMS AUH BNE CPH DOH DUB DUS EWR JFK KUL LCY LGW LHR MAD MEL ORK PER PHL RTM SAN SFO SYD TXL
She will almost definitely arrive at D6, one of the "bus gates" (in other words she will be bussed to the terminal from a remote stand). From there it's up one flight of stairs, then a very short walk to the main concourse where she turns left to go through passport control and security for the Schengen part of the airport.
Once she is on the Schengen side she will probably have a fairly long walk to B or C Pier (there are moving walkways for some of it), or if she is lucky she may be departing from the Schengen part of D Pier which is much closer.