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Para-athlete inspires pupils to raise funds

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A talented visually impaired para-athlete yesterday gave inspiration to north-east school pupils preparing to take part in a gruelling cycling challenge.

Aberdeen’s Laura Cluxton met 15 pupils from Banchory Academy who are undertaking this year’s Across Scotland cycling challenge.

The gruelling 358-mile ride will take them across the north of Scotland, from Cape Wrath, the most northerly tip of the UK mainland to Herma Ness on Shetland, the most northerly tip of the UK.

The pupils will cover the route in just nine days, raising funds which will be split between Acis, a mental health charity which supports young people in the north-east, and Fabb (Facilitating Access Breaking Barriers) Blazing Saddles project, which offers youngsters with disabilities the ability to cycle, often for the first time, on specially adapted bikes.

Laura, who lost her vision to retinitis pitmentosa, a degenerative eye condition that eventually leads to blindness, took time out from her busy training schedule for next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games to meet the S2 and S3 pupils and talk to them about her career.

As an ambassador for the Blazing Saddles project, she also hopes every penny raised by the Banchory pupils will take the charity closer to opening the first all-ability cycle centre in Aberdeenshire, with an announcement on a location expected soon.

Colin Nicoll, the school’s depute rector said: “Laura spoke passionately about her highs and lows of being an athlete and her experiences to date representing Scotland at the Commonwealth Games.

“She was joined by her tandem partner Fiona Duncan who both answered questions from pupils and staff about their training and experiences.

“The presentation was a great success and will hopefully be a great motivator for the pupils to go out and raise as much money as they can for the charities we are supporting this year.

“All the money raised goes directly to the selected charities as the children pay in full to take part in the expedition.”

Since the school launched the Across Scotland trips ten years ago more than £103,000 has been raised.

Anyone interested in supporting the pupils can visit


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