IMES, a leading independent provider of global engineering and lifting inspection services, has helped a north-east school raise £17,000 for two national charities.
The Aberdeen-based company provided key logistical support to pupils from Banchory Academy, along with volunteers and teachers from the school, who took part in Across Scotland.
The grueling nine-day challenge saw the team, including 14 pupils, walk and cycle more than 300 miles across the Western Isles, with ferries transporting them between different islands.
Across Scotland is an annual event for second and third-year pupils, aged between 13 and 14-years old. This is the 6th consecutive year that pupils from Banchory Academy have taken part in the challenge; however, all of the pupils involved this year were taking part for the first time.
A different route is selected each year with this year’s expedition setting off from Barra in the Outer Hebrides, taking in the Butt of Lewis, Stornoway and Ullapool, before finishing at Tarbat Ness Point, near Tain.
Colin Nicoll, depute rector at Banchory Academy, is a former pupil at the school. He was responsible for introducing the challenge to pupils and has been actively involved for the past six years.
He said: “The trip was a great success with all 20 members of the team managing to complete the challenge without so much as a single puncture. The weather was pretty awful which meant there were some really tough days, but the young people coped extremely well.
“By the end of the trip we had covered a total of 325 miles, across nine islands in nine days - which was an incredible achievement for everyone that took part. We’d like to thank everyone who has donated funds for the two charities which will hopefully go some way towards helping them continue their excellent work.”
The team was joined by Paul Basford, project manager at IMES, for the second consecutive year. A former Royal Marine, Paul was responsible for the transit of the team’s equipment between each stage of the challenge. The company also provided jackets for the teachers and offshore bags to store kit.
He said: “Despite the rain, wind, long days and mountainous terrain, the young people involved all showed great determination to complete the challenge. They should all be extremely proud of their achievement. It’s also a tremendous feeling to have raised so much for the two charities.”
Banchory Academy has raised £80,000 since 2009 for a range of local and national causes through its participation in Across Scotland. Each year pupils nominate a new charity to benefit from their fundraising activities.
Last year, two members of the armed forces joined the team; Scott Meenagh and the late Paul Burns, who both served in the Parachute Regiment before suffering life-changing injuries.
It has been decided that 90% of the proceeds raised this year will go towards BLESMA (the British Limbless Ex Servicemen’s Association) – a leading charity which provides life-long support for injured veterans and their families. Paul Burns was a passionate supporter of the charity and the pupils aimed to raise money in his memory.
The remainder of the money raised will benefit the Lucie Blackman Trust, which provides knowledge and logistical support to the families of missing people around the world.
The event and consequent activities the children took part in fully complied with the Aberdeenshire Council "Procedures for All Off-Site Excursions Policy". This involved the full range of key actions, including a notification sent to Adventure Scotland, appropriate staffing ratios, full parental consent, contingency arrangements and PVG checks as required.