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Community / Charity staff raise more than £2k after completing walking and cycling challenge

Arriving in Lerwick on Saturday morning, from left to right: Catriona Thomson, Stephanie Bain, Wilma McGhee, Megan Keppie, Charis Scott. Missing from the picture is Holly Leask. Photo: Ability Shetland

ABILITY Shetland staff have raised more than £2,000 by walking and cycling roughly 100 miles between their club venues across the isles.

It cumulated in the team walking 26 miles overnight from Walls to Lerwick at the weekend. An online fundraiser is still open.

Those who walked and cycled were team leader Stephanie Bain, admin assistant Wilma McGhee, sports development coordinator Charis Scott, fieldworker Holly Leask, holiday club coordinator Catriona Thomson and sports development support worker Megan Keppie.

The first day of the challenge saw staff walk from Unst to Yell, cycling through Yell and then going again on foot from Toft to the Mossbank Hall.

At the hall the staff members enjoyed a lunch provided by the Brae Co-op alongside the charity’s North Mainland adult social club members.

Holly Leask at the Mossbank Hall. Photo: Ability Shetland

The next day covered the North Mainland, where the charity runs clubs in North Roe, Hillswick and Brae – with the team given lunch from the Braewick Cafe. The Westside was also visited too.

Team leader Stephanie Bain said the walk from Walls to Lerwick, on Friday night into Saturday morning, was the “biggest challenge”.

On arrival into town the crew visited all their Lerwick club venues, from the Staney Hill Hall in the north of town to the Sandveien Neighbourhood Centre in the south.

Bain said a Fjara breakfast was “very well received” by the team when they had completed the trek.

It did not stop there for two staff members though – Scott and Keppie stayed up and went on to play with the rugby sevens competition at the Clickimin – and ended up winning.

“I think we underestimated how challenging it would be to be honest,” Bain added, reflecting on the final walk.

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“We had a lovely visit from a peerie boy who had stayed up to greet us with a donation. It was almost 2am when we met him with his torch and his mam.

“There were a few signs and treats left out for us at Bixter and Tresta too. We had a pit stop about half way where one of our friends had made flasks of tea and hot chocolate along with homemade sausage rolls and fancies.

“That was a welcome sight but I think the length of time we stopped for didn’t do us any favours. Holly and I certainly struggled for a few miles with stiffness – we were walking like the tin man at one point.”

They played some games between them on their walk to pass the time – “the alphabet game was the game of choice for a peerie start!” – while Bain said it was a “lovely experience” to walk the roads whilst they were quiet.

Ability Shetland has a total of 17 clubs for disabled children and adults, in addition to its sports services, equipment lending and an accessible boat.

Bain said to complement local and national funding, “we must undertake our own fundraising to ensure that we can continue to provide support to those who need it and their families”.

With more than £2,200 raised so far by the challenge, Bain said: “We have surpassed our target and are delighted to raise this amount for our club running costs.”

The team leader added that the charity has also been successful in two funding bids for its ASN holiday club.

“A three year grant of £43,009 from RS Macdonald Charitable Trust and another year grant of £25,000 from the Baily Thomas Charitable Trust gives us and the families we support, some reassurances for the next few years that we can provide holiday clubs across Shetland for disabled children from four to 18 years old,” Bain said.

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