01 Aug 2013

Dicing with the Devil: a footrace with a vengeance

Dicing with the devilRunners from across the world will be gathering in the Scottish Highlands this weekend to take part in a footrace with a vengeance: The Devil o’ the Highlands.

Fundraiser Claire MacAskill has signed over her soul to raise money for Kincardine and Deeside Befriending charity. As a volunteer befriender for the charity, Claire visits older people across the area and offers support and companionship to those who are at risk of social isolation.

The Devil’s in the detail

Taking place on the 3rd of August, the Devil o' the Highlands is a 43 mile footrace following the latter part of the West Highland Way. Starting in Tyndrum (Perthshire) and finishing in Fort William (Highlands), each competitor has 12 hours to complete the course, which has a total ascent of around 6000ft.

This is not a race for the faint-hearted. The Devil o' the Highlands has been rated as one of the top ten ultra distance races in Britain by Runners World magazine. Runners hail from some 15 countries - eager to push the limit and experience Scotland’s breathtaking landscape.

With a mere seven marathons and three ultra marathons under her belt, this is familiar territory for Claire. She was inspired to enter the Devil whilst supporting a fellow runner who ran the entire route: 95 miles in 36 hours.

Reaching out to isolated people

“First I lost the love and warmth of my husband and then I lost my friends due to old age. If it were not for Kincardine and Deeside Befriending I would be a very sad and lonely woman” Befriendee.

Kincardine and Deeside Befriending is a registered charity near Aberdeen, which aims to reduce social isolation and loneliness in older people throughout the Kincardine and Deeside area. By matching older people on a one-to-one basis with volunteer befrienders, the charity reaches out to people over 55 who have become socially isolated because of illness, disability or some difficulty or change of circumstance.

Claire has been personally involved with the charity. She said: “Having been matched with my befriendee for more than six months now I can see the huge benefits our charity plays in the lives of older isolated and lonely people in our locality. By running this race for Kincardine and Deeside Befriending I will not only raise some money but also raise awareness of what we do within the community.”

For Claire, MyDonate’s free online fundraising portal was an ideal way to raise money. She said: “I wanted people to be able to donate to my chosen charity electronically and the major influence was the charity does not pay a monthly fee to join.”

Making funds go further

Last year more than 100 older people, and in many cases their carers too, benefitted from Kincardine and Deeside Befriending’s service.

Funding is needed to access specific training for volunteers, purchase equipment or provide transport to enable clients to attend the charity’s social events.

Shona Adamson, administrator at Kincardine and Deeside Befriending, believes free fundraising is crucial, it enables them to maximise their fundraising potential.

She said: “As a small charity we spend a very small percentage of limited staff time on fundraising. With this in mind we researched MyDonate carefully before deciding that this free and user-friendly donation site was the ‘best fit’ for our requirements.”

You can view Claire’s fundraising page here.

Find out more about Kincardine and Deeside Befriending on their website.

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