A former paratrooper has given a “huge shout out to the people in Shetland” after hitting his £100,000 charity fundraising target while self-isolating on remote Hildasay.
Chris Lewis, who has been walking the isles coast since October, wanted to say thank you to folk for their support.
His journey here comes as part of an almost three-year UK wide trek to raise money for armed forces charity Ssafa, which helps veterans and their families.
However, the Welsh walker, from Swansea, was forced to put his plans on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak.
He is now holed up with his dog Jet on the isle west of Scalloway. This follows a kind offer of accommodation in a former shepherd’s house from one isles family and a boat trip over courtesy of Hamnavoe resident Victor Laurenson, who does regular supply drops of fresh water and coal for Chris.
The kindness of islanders like these has stayed with Chris, who said folk had even been ringing up the shop in Hamnavoe and leaving money behind the counter for him.
While on the island he was also paid a special visit from the coastguard, who were landing on Hildasay as part of a training exercise. He was presented with a Shetland search and rescue badge, which he called “unbelievable”.
“I have never been so happy,” he said. “I was overwhelmed by it.”
Chris has plans to frame his coastguard badge as soon as he has completed his trip.
His company on Hildasay includes 15 sheep, birds, plus plenty of rabbits for Jet to chase, according to the former soldier.
“Self-isolating is totally normal for me,” said Chris. He had taken hope from the hundreds of messages he received asking “how do you cope being on your own?”.
As he has been in isolation for the last few years, Chris told folk it was important “keeping yourself busy”, to have a routine and “know how to use the time productively to make the best of it”.
He had hoped to achieve his triple digit target while still in Shetland and has now done so.
The fundraiser is still going up too, and was recently on over £113,000.
Once restrictions are lifted Chris plans to finish walking the isles coast, before setting off down the northeast of Scotland.