Once again, I want to thank the people of Shetland for supporting Disability Shetland by donating so generously to our West Highland Way fundraiser.
I’m not going to pretend that I found it easy. To state the obvious, I’m not as young as I used to be when I climbed the mountains which looked down on us as we battled the rough track beside Loch Lomond, then over the more open ground across Rannoch Moor and through Glencoe to Fort William.
But whenever I began to feel sorry for myself I remembered two things: firstly, my temporary aches and pains were nothing at all compared to the lifelong suffering of many of the bairns and adults who come to Disability Shetland; secondly, I don’t think we should expect people to sponsor us unless we’re doing something that takes us to our limits and involves a bit of a struggle.
I probably wouldn’t have got to Fort William without help. My travelling companion Kenny Groat is just one of those inspirational characters; when you’re with him everything seems possible. Thanks, Kenny, this was your project; you did all the work and deserve all the credit.
Then there’s Bruce McCulloch. I went to him with a foot injury which seemed as if it might stop my walk before it started.
There was no head-shaking or advice to act my age – just an immediate guarantee that we could find a way to solve the problem.
Bruce devised a dressing which got me through seven days of walking without pain or discomfort. Great skill – and great attitude.
My wife, family and friends have to put up with a lot, listening to my worries beforehand, my moans afterwards – and then dipping into their bank accounts.
Within Disability Shetland, trustees, staff, volunteers, clients and parents have been wonderfully supportive – with a special mention for Joyce Henderson who does so much of the unseen work which keeps the charity going.
It looks as if donations to our West Highland Way walk will total between £4,000 and £5,000 for the Adults Sports Club, which provides recreation, exercise, fun and friendship for a large number of people every week.
In other times, local fundraising provided us with extras and enhancements to our service – now it supplies the life-blood which keeps us alive.
In that struggle for survival, the local media – The Shetland Times, Shetland News and Radio Shetland – are our vital link with the public, and we thank you for that support.
I’ll not spoil the positive message of this letter by describing our recent encounters with some local and national funders – depressing in their outcomes and also in the nature and quality of the negotiations.
Such a contrast with the people of Shetland, whose generosity seems undiminished by how often we’ve asked for your help. Just saying thank you seems inadequate, but it’s all I can do to express my deep gratitude to you from everybody at Disability Shetland.
People have been reminding me that, after my New Year on Ronas Hill, I said I’d give up such enterprises. I meant it then – but failed to predict the depth of the difficulties we’d face. So now I’ve changed my promise. I’ll stop doing stupid things when the world becomes a fairer place.