It has a top speed of only eight miles per hour – but that has not stopped Mark Newton from using his mobility scooter on a fund-raising tour of Great Britain.
The 47-year-old ex-military man has gathered over £12,000, which he intends to divide among Help for Heroes, the British Legion, armed forces charity Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) and the RNLI. A portion of the funds will also go to the benevolent fund of Mr Newton’s old regiment, the 1st Queens Dragoon Guards.
Mr Newton, from Swansea, took to the road around six months ago. His arrival in Shetland on Sunday morning came almost exactly 22 years after he suffered a serious leg injury during a football match while he was attached to the UN in Cyprus.
Raising money for good causes has, he says, given him something to do with the spare time he has had since being made redundant from a college he worked in three years ago.
“My right leg is dead below the knee. This is something to do. I lost my job in 2010 and I can’t sit on my backside and do nothing. I’ve got a very low boredom threshold. So I’ve decided to help charities that have helped me,” he said.
His chosen mode of transport means Mr Newton will not be completing his task any time soon. Indeed, he has already spent much of the year travelling throughout the country, and raising cash along the way.
He expects to take a month going around Shetland alone, travelling in a clock-wise direction and taking in all inhabited islands.
“I am touring the whole of Great Britain. I’ve been doing it for nearly six months. I’ve got a maximum speed of eight miles per hour – if I’m going downhill with a good wind behind me.
“I’m going to do all the islands. I travel clockwise, I’ll turn left down to Sumburgh and then up to the west coast and around.
So far his fund-raising efforts have proved to be a roaring success, but Mr Newton admitted he had no set figure in mind that he wanted to reach.
“I’ve got about twelve and a half thousand. I didn’t set targets I never do.”
Mr Newton has been making steady, if slow, progress since starting out in his venture. The one “spot of bother” he has had is in the Sutherland hide-away of Durness on Saturday night where, he said, his scooter was vandalised by “a local drunk”.