A Golspie father and daughter are braving the icy waters of Sutherland lochs every month to raise money for The Sandpiper Trust.
Patrick and Alice Marriott will be taking the plunge without wet suits and swimming the equivalent length of an Olympic pool (54 yds) while mum Henrietta, an advanced nurse practitioner and accident responder, looks on, ready to ‘raise the red card’ if she sees her family straying into danger.
Alice, 16, a student at Loretto boarding school in Edinburgh decided she wanted to do a charity fund raiser for Sandpiper.
The trust was founded 20 years ago after 14-year-old Loretto pupil Sandy Dickson died in a tragic accident.
That poignant link, plus seeing the life-saving Sandpiper kit in the back of her mother’s car, prompted Alice to create the year-long challenge which has already seen donations of more than £3,700 on the Mariotts’ Fundrazr site, defying the family’s expectations.
One complete Sandpiper kit costs around £3,500, so the Marriotts are cautiously hoping they will be able to fund two kits.
This month, the family are eyeing up Loch Brora for their swim next week, with Henrietta already planning out the hot soup and warm packs for Patrick and Alice before rushing them home for a hot shower afterwards.
She said: “It may not seem far, but the length of an Olympic size pool seems to stretch for ever when you pace it out on the shore.
“I will be raising the red card if I feel it isn’t safe or just stupid.”
Henrietta is one of only a handful of BASICS (British Association for Immediate Care) responders in Sutherland.
She works part time at Invergordon hospital, and volunteers up to 30 hours a week on call for BASICS.
The association acts as a support system for the ambulance service.
The responders deliver life-saving, pre-hospital care when ambulances are too thinly spread across the Highlands to arrive quickly at the scene of a terrible incident.
When called out, Henrietta is usually the first medically trained person to reach an accident within a 30 mile radius of her home, and relies on her Sandpiper kit to administer life-saving care.
She averages around 20 call outs a year.
She said: “We’re a valuable addition to the armory of the ambulance service, improving people’s chances.
“It’s not always a good outcome but at least you can rest easy knowing you’ve done all you can.”