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Sandy’s New Year’s Eve charity challenge

Trustee Sandy Peterson: '2015 has been a tough year for Disability Shetland' - Photo: Hans J Marter/ShetNews

A SEASONED Shetland campaigner is embarking on his toughest fundraising challenge yet.

Sandy Peterson, a trustee of Disability Shetland, is preparing to walk the 40 miles from the charity’s Lerwick offices to Ronas Hill in time to welcome in the New Year on top of Shetland’s highest peak.

The 72-year old will set off at midnight on 30 December, allowing himself 24 hours to complete the walk and reach the summit.

This is the third fundraising campaign the retired teacher from Vidlin has undertaken this year. It is all in support of Disability Shetland, whose financial survival is hanging in the balance.

The charity runs around 20 clubs for youths and adults with disabilities to help them achieve their “full potential in all areas of life”.

Peterson said: “2015 has been a tough year for Disability Shetland, with threats of closure hanging over us.

“We’re still here – thanks mainly to the generosity of the people of Shetland.”

The charity desperately needs core funding of around £60,000 to pay for office space and its two employees.

But with community finances squeezed Shetland Charitable Trust is unwilling to release any additional funds.

A bid for £23,000 of extra funding from the charitable trust was rejected although the trust continues to support Disability Shetland to the tune of £12,641 per annum for running adult recreation clubs.

The charity also has three service level agreements with the local authority to run children and holiday clubs on their behalf. They are all up for renegotiation early in the new year.

Peterson – with the help of local supporters – has taken to the hills, the roads and the sea to help bridge the funding gap and has succeeded in raising the profile of the charity locally.

More than £25,000 has been raised in 2015, including some larger donations, but more is needed for the next year.

“I wanted to mark the new year by doing something to thank them for all they’ve done for us in 2015 – and seek their continuing help in 2016,” he said.

“I may be joined by other people for parts of the walk. My wife Sheila is threatening to do the climb up Ronas Hill, as well as bringing me food and encouragement during the walk from Lerwick to Collafirth.”

You can support his efforts by making donations through sponsor forms, at Just Giving http://campaign.justgiving.com/charity/disability-shetland/ronas, PayPal links on the charity’s website at www.disabilityshetland.com, or by handing in money at Market House in Lerwick.