With mass gatherings postponed due to coronavirus restrictions, Scotland’s Virtual Kiltwalk kicks off today with socially distanced events across the country.
Billed as the biggest and best ever virtual fundraising event, it will run for three days until Sunday, April 25.
Sir Tom Hunter and The Hunter Foundation will be topping up all funds by 50%.
However, virtual events held to raise funds for cash-strapped charities attracted 16,000 Kiltwalkers and delivered £2.5 million, with The Hunter Foundation doubling the fundraising total to £5m.
As a Kiltwalker, all you need to do is don a bit of tartan and complete any socially distanced challenge you wish; from walking, running, cycling, hopping, skipping or jumping on a trampoline to raise vital funds.
Dancethons and treasure hunts
Some are even completing danceathons or treasure hunts.
Celia Welsh will raise money for the Brae Horse Riding for the Disabled in Dundee.
Celia, from Inchture, plans to walk 15 miles to boost the charity’s coffers, in the hope her grandson will benefit from the organisation in the future. Today she donned her tartan dress in the sunshine.
Ben, who is 20 months old, was born at Ninewells Hospital, where there were complications to his delivery. He has since developed quadriplegic cerebral palsy.
Celia said: “With the NHS hard-pressed due to Covid-19, there were limits to professional help for Ben, but due to private intervention with physiotherapy he has made some improvement but has not reached the usual milestones, as yet.
‘Wonderful horse riding’
“We hope he can benefit from the wonderful horse riding that The Brae provide when he’s a bit older, he will be able to use it hopefully from age two.
Like so many other charities they’ve been hit hard by lockdown and have had volunteers working to do so much vital work.
“I live alone in Inchture and have subscribed to The Kiltwalk, and plan to do at least eight miles today and the rest over this weekend.”
Armed Forces Veteran Penny Leggat is a caseworker for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airment and Families Association (SSAFA), also known as the Armed Forces Charity.
Armed Forces Charity
Penny currently volunteers for SSAFA Fife, which helps the serving, reservists, veterans and their families.
Penny served as a Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps Nursing Officer in Germany, the UK and a two-year tour with the Australian Defence Forces.
She also served with 32 Field Hospital during Operation Granby/Desert Storm.
Penny went on to work as a community midwife with SSAFA in Germany. On returning to the UK, with her serving husband, she brought up a young family, and worked with the Service Families’ Federations supporting and campaigning on their behalf for causes close to her heart.
Penny said: “After my final move and moving into my own home, I became an SSAFA volunteer here in Scotland.
“As an SSAFA volunteer, I have undertaken a variety of volunteer roles, as a caseworker and with the local branch committee. I am working with a great team of passionate, professional individuals, bringing to the fore and using skills, experiences that I have had over the years.
Kiltwalk covering 13 miles
“Being an SSAFA volunteer has given me the opportunity to meet a variety of different people, helping and assisting when needed, sharing their journey and successes. I hope to raise funds with the Kiltwalk to help support my local SSAFA Fife Branch”.
Penny will be walking alongside her husband, Group Captain Jim Leggat OBE, as well as SSAFA trustee Graham Meacher and his wife Elizabeth.
They will be taking a socially distanced walk of 13 miles around the Loch Leven Heritage trail.
The money raised will go to support SSAFA Fife, and donations can be made here.
Dundee and United put their best feet forward
The DeeKiltwalk, hosted by Dundee FC in the Community Trust, will take place on Sunday.
All funds raised will be to enhance the delivery and support to individuals in the city of Dundee.
Endeavours include; enhanced community support, more community classes, increased mental health support and tackling social inclusion within the city.
Crisis support after Covid-19
City rivals Dundee United will also be taking part through their own community trust, DUCT, and will use funds to continue delivering projects such as Festive Friends and the Para Sports Club – as well as crisis support during and after Covid-19.
Staff members Linda Sterry and Doreen Wingham have adapted their support service over the last year to continue to offer virtual support during lockdown to those bereaved and experiencing financial hardship.
They are using the Kiltwalk to fulfil a personal challenge and give something back with the generous support of their sponsors.
Doreen said: “My reason for attempting the Kiltwalk is to raise awareness for Funeral Link, I want to help build recognition that we are a supporting charity for the people of Dundee.
“I may not set the world on fire with my Billy Whizz walking but I am willing to do my best and would like to thank my sponsors from the bottom of my heart as these funds will go towards supporting people who are struggling at the worst time of their lives.”
Keen youngsters taking part
Linda and Doreen are being joined, virtually, by one of their trustees, Ruth Bickerton, and her family and friends, including a group of nine keen High School of Dundee pupils.
Collectively, the team of walkers have managed to raise over £2,000 in support so far.
Ruth, who is taking part along with her husband and two sons George and Archie said: “Funeral Link do a really important job of helping people in Dundee, at a really difficult time in their lives.
“Hopefully the Kiltwalk will help raise the profile of this much-needed organisation, across Dundee and to our younger people too.”
Linda said: “Grief and bereavement have been in sharp focus this year and we continue to do all we can to support those who find themselves in need of our assistance.
“We have been overwhelmed with gratitude by the sponsorship we have received so far, and every penny raised will go back into supporting those who need our help.”
For more information on what’s taking place and how to sign up, visit the Kiltwalk 2021 website.