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Six peak challenge raises thousands

True grit. Sandy Peterson and Allison 'Flea' Duncan reach the top of Scallafield, shortly after which Flea pulled a muscle. Photo Richard Gatehouse

TWO veterans have raised more than £2,000 for Disability Shetland by completing a new sporting challenge – climbing six of the islands’ highest peaks in a day.

Retired teacher Sandy Peterson and local council Allison ‘Flea’ Duncan set off at 4am on Friday morning to head up Shetland’s highest hill at Ronas in Northmavine.

They were joined by Peterson’s nephew Richard Gatehouse, a keen hill walker and runner, who was up on holiday from Blairgowrie.

Peterson, who will be 70 next month, is an experienced hill walker himself, but for his 67 year old junior partner Duncan this was a new experience.

Despite this, the councillor outpaced his companion up the first three hills at Ronas, Dalescord and Scallafield, though not without consequences.

Duncan sustained a pulled muscle in his leg coming down the second hill at Dalescord and though he soldiered on for one more climb, by the time they were 100 yards up Royl Field at Cunningsburgh he was forced to take a break.

Peterson and Gatehouse carried on and finished climbing Scousburgh Hill and Fitful Head by 10pm, easily inside their target time.

Meanwhile Duncan headed home for a rest before continuing up the final two peaks with a couple of friends, taking a bath and applying some “chill” to his muscles between climbs.

Over the weekend he collected almost £650 in donations, including £370 from a birthday bash and £205 from his own old time dance club.

To make good on his pledge, Duncan completed the final hill at Cunningsburgh on Monday morning with another friend.

“Flea was fantastic,” Peterson said afterwards.

“I am a hill walker and my nephew is a hill walker and runner, but the Flea has not really done yun kind of thing and he did the first three hills better than I did!”

In fact it had been Duncan’s idea in the first place, proposing at the annual Disability Shetland dinner dance that they should do some fundraising during these times of straitened finances.

It was Peterson who chose six of Shetland’s eight highest Marilyns – hills with a 500 foot drop on each side – leaving out Saxa Vord on Unst and The Sneug on Foula for practical reasons.

Their efforts have certainly paid off, he said.

“Thanks to a fair extent to the Flea who brought in more than £600 over the weekend, we have done really well raising funds.

“I think there is no doubt we will raise more than £2,000 by the end of the day.”

As for the Flea, by the end of Friday he said he felt “very tired – so I ended up that night going for a few libations at Spiggie.”