Runners and riders who took part in this year’s Highland Cross 50-mile duathlon have raised a record £277,189 for local charities.
The challenge involves 20 miles on foot and 30 miles on a bike, west to east from Kintail through Glen Affric and Strathglass to Beauly.
The 2016 effort means the gruelling event has amassed a cumulative total of £4.4million in its 34-year history.
Birchwood Highland is one of the local charities to benefit from the heroics of the participants. The pan-Highland group is at the cutting edge of mental health recovery.
It owns and manages Scotland’s only centre in Inverness, dedicated to assisting people to take control of their lives and move forward in the face of enduring mental health issues.
Deputy chief executive of Birchwood Highland, Annabel Mowat, accepted a cheque for £45,000 on behalf of the charity, which will fund a new social space at the organisation’s Recovery Centre in Inverness.
Ms Mowat said: “This fantastic donation will make a huge difference to the lives of the people we support at the recovery centre.
“Significant and enduring mental health issues can be a real barrier to what a lot of folks take for granted. What sounds like simple things – such as sitting talking to others, sharing opinions and eating meals together – can be so important.
“When we first thought how vital some additional social space was for us, we then considered the cost and it seemed like many, many years away.
“So to say we are delighted to have had a successful application is to understate how we feel. Residents and staff alike are really chuffed.”
Work has already started on the new sun lounge at the Recovery Centre and it is hoped the vital space will be ready to open by early 2018, with the Highland Cross team as special guests at the opening ceremony.
This year, six charities received a cash injectionfrom The Highland Cross and one of its organisers, Calum Munro, was delighted to reveal a further seven charities will benefit now the final figure has been tallied.
Mr Munro addressed supporters and volunteers at a special event in Inverness recently and told them: “The work you do makes the Highlands proud – you are amazing individuals.”
Along with co-founder of the event, Gerry Grant, Mr Munro is the recipient of a shiny new MBE for his efforts. And he added: “This is for the team – without your commitment, sweat, time, leave from work and lofts stacked full of Highland Cross stuff – we couldn’t do it.
“I will wear it with immense pride, but I will wear it for you.”
Birchwood Highland is the region’s leading mental health charity and supports people across the Highlands who are experiencing mental ill health.
The organisation has offices in Inverness, Invergordon and Fort William and operates Scotland’s only Recovery Centre, where people who have left hospital can relearn and regain skills for everyday living.