While Scotland’s Virtual Kiltwalk takes place this weekend, 10,000 Kiltwalkers have already raised more than £2 million for nearly 1,000 Scottish charities, including Aberdeen’s CFINE, Charlie House, Friends of the Neuro Ward and more.
The £1.4 million that has already been raised has been given a 50% boost by The Hunter Foundation, ensuring that 980 charities, badly hit by the pandemic, will receive a much-needed share of the £2.1 million cash pot by the first week in May.
Philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter is challenging everyone in Scotland to sign-up and fundraise for the charity they care most about.
He said: “With just one week until Scotland’s Virtual Kiltwalk, I’d like to challenge as many Scots as possible to do something really special and take my money.
“The Virtual Kiltwalk is so easy, all you need to do to start raising money for the charity closest to your heart is set yourself your own personal challenge, as long as it’s socially distanced, and get going.
“The last year has been such a difficult time for charities across Scotland with many simply not receiving the support they need to do their wonderful work. Now it’s our job to do our best to support them by raising those all-important funds.”
One of the Kiltwalkers is a Stonehaven teenager with cerebral palsy who will take on a 26-mile cycle next weekend in aid of Charlie House.
Finlay Sangster, 15, uses a wheelchair and will complete the length of the usual 26-mile Aberdeen Kiltwalk – which normally takes place between Potarch and Duthie Park – on his Motomed, a motorised physical therapy device similar to a bicycle.
Finlay said: “I have been so lucky to have been supported by Charlie House throughout lockdown, they have tried really hard to find activities to keep families like mine active.
“Charlie House do an amazing job and provide essential support and guidance to families of disabled children. There isn’t much in this area, yet it is so important.
“I want to help them make a difference. I’m going to cycle 26 miles on my Motomed to help raise some money for them. If you can support them by donating a little, I’d be very grateful.”
Finlay’s mum Gail added: “Finlay saw the advert on the television for the Kiltwalk and said straight away that he would like to raise money for Charlie House.
“He is so selfless and doggedly determined!
“He’s been through the mill during lockdown but has continued to set himself various challenges to keep himself motivated – he’s currently cycling from Stonehaven to Wembley before the England v Scotland kick-off.
“He truly is an amazing young man. He always has such a positive outlook on life and values everything he has. We are very proud parents and love that he is a true inspiration to many.”
Leigh Ryrie, children & family support manager at Charlie House, said they were thrilled Finlay chose to support Charlie House with his Kiltwalk challenge.
She said: “The virtual element of this year’s Kiltwalk has meant participants no longer have to do the standard walk. Instead, they can let their imaginations run wild and choose a challenge suited to them and their abilities, making this year’s Kitlwalk the most accessible and inclusive one yet.
“This really is an incredible and exceptional challenge that Finlay has taken on and we encourage everyone to show him the support and encouragement he deserves.
“The whole Charlie House team wish Finlay the very best of luck with his cycle and we will be ‘virtually’ cheering him and all the other participants on during the virtual Kiltwalk weekend.”
Finlay has already raised more than £1,000 for the charity, which supports children and young people with complex disabilities and/or life-limiting conditions and their families across the north-east.
Aberdeen charity CFINE (Community Food Initiatives North East) would also like to encourage locals to take part in the fundrasing.
Lisa Duthie, CFINE’s chief executive, said: “The Kiltwalk has been one of the favourite fundraising activities of CFINE supporters for years.
“Many thanks to everyone who has previously taken part or is planning to don their tartan in aid of our cause this year.
“The pandemic has sadly left many families in Aberdeen struggling, with increasing levels of children and families going hungry.
“We hope this event will help us increase awareness of the challenges that food-insecure families experience and raise vital funds to provide support for hundreds of people every week.
“Please sign up today and join our tartan army to make a difference in the lives of those who were hit the hardest by Covid-19.”
Taking part in the virtual kiltwalk is also a team from the Press and Journal.
Live news editor Shona Gossip, who is also a co-chair of Friends of the Neuro Ward, joined forces with her P&J colleagues Rebecca Buchan and Joe Churcher to raise funds for the charity supporting patients in the neurological wards at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and the neuro-rehab unit at Woodend Hospital.
Shona, who will be dressed as the charity’s mascot Buddy the Bear, and her team will set off from the neuro-rehab unit at Woodend Hospital and take in beauty spots including Hazlehead Park, Duthie Park, Aberdeen Beach and Seaton Park.
She said: “The kiltwalk will be Buddy’s public debut. We got him just before the pandemic hit which meant we haven’t been able to take him to any fundraising events so this felt like the ideal opportunity to get him out and about and raise awareness of Friends of the Neuro Ward.
“It’ll be a massive challenge as the costume is very hot, but every step we take will raise valuable funds to help neuro patients at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Woodend.”
“We’d love people to give us a wave or a toot of the horn if they pass us.”