Force for Good: Moray veteran is committed to traversing the Sahara for charity

Zoe and Dianne
Zoe and Dianne

An RAF veteran has committed herself to a gruelling trek across the Sahara Desert to help former forces personnel.

Moray woman, Dianne McLeish is joining forces with her god-daughter Zoe Foster, 43, to raise money for Help for Heroes.

The only Scots taking part in the three-day trek, the intrepid pair will set off on the expedition in Morocco on Thursday – five days after Dianne’s 63rd birthday.


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The duo – who are calling themselves the Sahara Haggis Hunters – will be accompanied by 40 fellow fundraisers and veterans supported by the forces charity, Berber guides and a caravan of camels.

They will trek 25 miles during three days, journeying from the mountains of Jebel Sarhro through oases, sand dunes and open desert.

They will camp under the stars before finishing in the small town of Taghbalt.

Ms McLeish, from Burghead, became Help for Heroes volunteer county co-ordinator for Moray and the Highlands after leaving the RAF in 2009.

The veteran, who was based at RAF Lossiemouth, has raised more than £300,000 for the charity during the last decade by organising events and collections, selling merchandise and taking part in personal fundraising challenges.

She said: “Zoe and I always said we would do a Help for Heroes challenge together, so when I decided to do the Sahara trek, she agreed to join me.”

Ms McLeish is no stranger to adventure after serving for more than 33 years, including assisting with medical evacuations on tours of the Gulf, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

She has undertaken a series of gruelling personal challenges, including raising £8,000 on a 50-mile South African Wilderness Challenge, crossing barren desert and mountain ranges, just weeks before her 60th birthday.

She has also carried a beacon to light on the top of Ben Nevis for the Queens Jubilee.

Ms McLeish added: “I saw in action what the charity did when I was serving with Afghanistan, and how they helped wounded and sick veterans.

“I believe that the money raised by volunteers is well spent by the charity, in particular supporting individuals who need help at home, with mental health issues, supporting them in returning to work and in recovery through sport.”

Anyone wanting to sponsor Dianne can go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/diannemcleish, or email dianne.mcleish@h4hcounty.org.uk to arrange a talk on her challenges.

Further information on support available for veterans can be found at www.helpforheroes.org.uk

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