A GRUELLING charity challenge is set to mobilise a team of charity volunteers in Lochaber who will help coordinate the event and in the process raise valuable funds for good causes.
Volunteers from the Spean Bridge Senior Citizens Association and Friends of Nevis will offer their support to aid the fundraising teams attempting to complete this year’s RBS Caledonian challenge - an epic 54-mile trek from Gairlochy to Auchtertyre, near Tyndrum, over the Great Glen Way and West Highland Way footpaths in just 24 hours.
In exchange for volunteering as trail markers, registering entrants and helping boost morale, both will receive a portion of the money raised during the challenge to put towards their charity’s causes.
The Spean Bridge Senior Citizens Association provides vital services for OAPs such as trips and Christmas meals during the festive period and has put in place measures to help reduce the risk of fuel poverty.
Thanks to the large grant the charity receives each year from the Caledonian Challenge the association do not require local funding which frees up funding for other worthy causes in the local area.
Chairman John Fotheringham said: "The challenge is an annual event which members of our association love to take part in, so much so that in the past there have been 30 of us volunteering.
"We are delighted to be taking part for the fourth time and be in a position to help again this year and look forward to cheering the teams on.
"We’re hoping the donations this year will allow the charity to fund a trip to Portree and organise our Christmas plans for lunches and to go to a pantomime which everyone absolutely loved last year."
Friend of Nevis, a community based charity which aims to preserve the natural beauty of Ben Nevis and the surrounding landscape, is also taking part for the fourth time this year and will exchange 15 volunteers for a donation which will help support outdoor activities on and around the Ben.
Co-ordinator Liz Wilshaw said: "Raising valuable funds for our cause whilst being able to get involved in helping fundraisers in one of the UK’s biggest and best organised charity events is a unique opportunity and we’re delighted to be participating in the volunteer scheme again.
"It’s great for us because the money generated through the challenge goes straight back into supporting the landscape the event’s fundraisers are passing through. All the funds we raise through supporting the challenge go directly into our own fund to support outdoor voluntary activities on and around Ben Nevis, such as path maintenance and repairs and litter picking.
"This year we’re hoping to use the funds to pay for a path specialist to supervise a weekend of higher level path repairs on the main mountain track and also to support training volunteers in species monitoring and data collection for a forthcoming species survey in the Nevis area."
Founded in 1996 the Caledonian Challenge has attracted more than 14,000 participants who have raised over £11 million for the Scottish Community Foundation who then disperse grants to help achieve lasting impacting across Scotland’s communities.
Giles Rick, chief executive of the Scottish Community Foundation, said: "The RBS Caledonian Challenge wouldn’t be one of the biggest charity events of the year if it wasn’t for the dedication of the volunteers.
"Both charities have given us their time and enthusiasm which makes the event what it is, and in the process they are given large amounts of the funding raised for causes close to their hearts.
"It’s a great way of raising money for your charity, as well as an excellent opportunity to take in the great Scottish outdoors.
"It’s great that everyone involved in the event, participants, organisers and volunteers, are all invested in the philosophy of the occasion and able to socialise with members of other charities from the local area."
* More information about the event and how to support participating teams can be found on the website: www.caledonianchallenge.com