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Community / Fundraiser to head into the wild for island challenge

Kevin Tulloch and his daughter Lita. Background is an arial shot of Vementry by Calum Fraser.

A MAN from the westside has found a novel way to raise money for two charities close to his heart – by spending four days and nights on the uninhabited island of Vementry with only porridge oats among his supplies.

Kevin Tulloch, from Clousta, will forage and catch fish – as well as collect water from the island’s loch – during his adventure.

The 36-year-old also plans to pass the time on Vementry by cleaning up its beaches.

Kevin has already raised over £2,000 for charity despite his online donations page only going live a few days ago, more than doubling the initial target.

Half of the donations will go to Juvenile Arthritis Research, a charity which now has significant meaning for Kevin.

In November 2018 his daughter Lita, who was then aged three, was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.

She takes regular injections for the condition and while these have helped her to be flare-free for almost a year Lita finds them “very hard to cope with”.

Kevin heading to Vementry recently. Photo: James Isbister

The other half of the money raised will go to Macmillan Cancer Support, which has supported his niece Lauren since her diagnosis of bowel cancer almost a year ago, all the way through to her recent major surgery.

She said “they go above and beyond, working all hours of the day, on the end of a phone whenever you need them for patients and families, so they are never 100 per cent off shift, pretty much working 24/7”.

Money raised will be used to support people living with cancer in Shetland.

Kevin, who works in IT as well as crofting, plans to be dropped off by boat at Vementry – which is located south of Muckle Roe – on Thursday morning.

The only food he will have with him is around 300g of porridge oats for a morning refuel, with Kevin planning to catch fish and forage as well as collect and purify water.

He plans to take with him items like a fishing rod, a head torch, a lighter and cooking utensils – as well as a Go-Pro camera and accessories to document the adventure.

Kevin said going solo in the Vementry wilderness was something he has been considering for a while.

There are shades of UK coastline walker Chris Lewis, who recently spent a number of months on Hildasay during lockdown, but Kevin said the idea has been at the back of his mind for years.

“I would probably be lying if I said that it wasn’t in some way, even subconsciously, inspired by him [Chris Lewis],” he said.

“I’ve been very interested in what he’s doing, so it’s probably rubbed off on my decision to go for it.

“I’ve been thinking of it for years. But also with a lack of stuff on this year and having a bit more time, and then also with what’s been happening with my niece…I think the whole lot of it has come together and I decided it was the right time to do it.”

Kevin expects fish to be his main source of sustenance but fall back options could include whelks, limpets and heather berries.

Isolation, and being disconnected from the modern world, is a key part of the challenge.

He does hope to get a friend to collect a memory card midway through the challenge, though, so that photos can be uploaded online to show his progress.

“I’m fine with my own company but I’m not sure how I’ll deal with it being pitch black, and there being nobody else around,” Kevin said.

Donations are welcomed through the online fundraising page.