STV weather presenter Sean Batty has arrived in the isles to take part in a cycle challenge from Unst to Sumburgh.
He hopes to raise thousands of pounds in aid of this year’s STV Appeal – which aims to bring an end to child poverty in Scotland – by cycling through Shetland and Orkney.
The chirpy weatherman is due to begin his gruelling task tomorrow. Today he accepted a £350 donation from the Havly Cafe in Lerwick, which raised the money through the sale of home-made shortbread.
Visits were also laid on to the Toll Clock Shopping Centre and the Walter and Joan Gray care home in Scalloway. He even raised £160 on his ferry journey from Aberdeen, thanks to a fund-raising quiz on the boat.
But tomorrow the serious work gets under way when Mr Batty starts his gruelling challenge from the Valhalla brewery at Saxa Vord in Unst.
He will be accompanied by local youngsters as he makes his way through the isle to get to the inter-island ferry to Yell. The weatherman has a stop-off point at Frankie’s Fish and Chip shop in Brae.
But the beginning of the week will see him make a final push to the South Mainland, culminating in a cycle down the length of the main Sumburgh Airport runway.
So, does the presenter like cycling?
“This is the third year of the STV appeal,” he said. “The first year they asked, what do you fancy doing, and I thought I quite fancy doing a cycling challenge.
“I think that was it. I was setting myself something that was quite difficult, and it was. I thought I’ll cycle the Western Isles – that will be 130 miles. I jumped on a bike – I hadn’t been on a bike for years, and it was hard.
“Once I’d done the Western Isles I realised areas like that have such a good community spirit, and that’s why I thought I would want to do Shetland and Orkney.
“But no, I’m not a cyclist. I actually only bought a bike a couple of months ago through the bike to work scheme, but I have been doing a bit of training before this so hopefully that will help me a little bit.”
Mr Batty raised £3,000 through his initial Western Isles cycle-run in 2011. Last year the fund-raising efforts clearly went up a gear because he raised an impressive £9,000 by cycling from Glasgow to Edinburgh.
On tow at the time was Jock, his mum’s dog. But this year Jock is apparently “doing his own thing” by raising money and gaining awareness through his own Twitter page.
Mr Batty said: “This year I’m hoping to break about £12,000-£13,000 and the Scottish government match-funds the money that we raise.
“Originally, when it [the STV Appeal] was first started the idea was that we were going to change charities each year, but I think given the economic climate we have in Scotland and the first year we raised money helping bring children out of poverty.
“The great thing I like about it is that all the money raised stays in Scotland.”
Havly supervisor Rachel Bowles said she was delighted to be able to make the donation.
“We felt it was a nice way to give something to the community and to support the project,” she said. “Everybody likes shortbread so it was an easy one to use.
“There has been a big buzz in the cafe. Staff have been very excited, and everybody has been very supportive. We are a Christian-run cafe, and giving is what we are about.”