Wilderness challenge hands over huge donation to Highland Hospice

Representatives of the charities with, at the front, Ullapool Health Centre GP Richard Weekes and Great Wilderness Challenge secretary Pat Ross, with a £6,000 ultrasound scanner donated to the health centre.

The organisers of one of the north’s toughest charity challenges have handed over a huge donation to the Highland Hospice.

The Great Wilderness Challenge has always had strong links with the hospice – having been established in the 1980s as a one-off to raise funds for the charity’s original building.

But it proved so successful it has become an annual event raising huge sums for various charities, retaining particularly strong links with the hospice.

Yesterday organisers behind the challenge visited the hospice’s new base in Inverness to hand over a donation of £73,000 raised during last year’s edition.

It was the largest single donation out of a fundraising tally which reached £162,000 spread between 19 charities.

Other beneficiaries included Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers, which received £38,150 and Clic Sargent which collected £9,000.

Challenge chairman Eric Thomson said: “It is always encouraging to see the distribution of funds to those people and charities which the Great Wilderness Challenge seeks to assist.

“It is, essentially, the end result and the moment we all work towards. Today is the first time we have gathered together some of the agencies who represent the charities we support and such a gathering can only serve to further motivate us all to continue with the good work.”

Andrew Leaver, the hospice’s head of fundraising, added: “Over the past few years the contribution from the challenge has been enough to pay for two full time hospice nurses each year.

“We are hugely grateful to the organising committee and all the participants for this support.”

The main challenge takes in a gruelling 25 mile trek across the remote mountainous region between Dundonnell and Poolewe, known as the Great Wilderness.

As the event as grown in popularity it has added 13 and seven mile distances.

Last year added two new routes for people with limited mobility, designed by Gairloch physiotherapist Birgit Joost.

Every year around 500 people take part across all of the events.

To date the event has raised in excess of £3.6million.

The 2017 edition will be held in August.