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Forres mum raises £2000 for Blythswood Care charity by canoeing 60 miles on Loch Ness

By Garry McCartney

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Ami and Thomas preparing for six hours of canoeing.
Ami and Thomas preparing for six hours of canoeing.

A FIT Forres mum raised more than £2000 for charity by paddling 60 miles up the Great Glen.

Ami Dundas (43), of Balnageith and her friend Thomas Hughes from Pittenweem, spent four to six hours a day from June 10-14 on the often treacherous waters of Loch Ness.

The pair wild camped at night and canoed from Fort William to Inverness to raise £2144 for Ross-shire-based charity, Blythswood Care.

Ami said: “It was a great few days but they really pushed our ability, teamwork and resilience to the limit! “There were times we had to think and act fast as there was a real danger of capsize, but we were determine to complete the challenge for Blythswood. I am so grateful to everyone who sponsored me, it really did spur me on.”

Ami – wife to offshore worker Graeme and mum to eight-year-old Rueben – had never canoed over distance before. However, she trained hard and was ready to take on the challenge. In certain sections the wind was up to 30mph, which, in a canoe, Ami said felt more like gale force nine. She and Thomas roped their canoes together for safety in the choppy waters.

Ami said: “Conditions on day one were perfect along the canal which was great for us to learn how to control the canoe. The job of the front person is to continually paddle and person behind is the rudder and steer. It took an hour for Thom to master it but we got there!

“Day two was out in the open lochs in wind of up to 20-25mph. There were big waves and we had to constantly check the wind direction.

“Day three was along the canal heading up to Loch Ness – conditions were good.

“On day four winds picked up to 30mph and we had to wait for the weather to improve before making a break for the finish line at the end of Loch Ness.

“On the last day the winds were high again and we couldn’t launch from the beach so we walked the canoes for 10 minutes before setting off. Knowing we were canoeing home felt brilliant.”

She added: “I was buzzing throughout the whole experience. It was a real testament to my spirit, outlook, energy and confidence. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you push yourself!”

Ami was impressed by the scenery along the water and in secluded campsites accessible only by canoe.

She said: “My favourite was Loch Lochy. I’ll never forget that sunset, it was stunning.”

Ami’s family met her at the finish with congratulatory banners.

“They were so proud,” she said. “ I felt delighted about my achievement and for raising so much money for Blythswood. I came straight home afterwards, had a huge sandwich and slept for three hours!”

She added: “The trip was one of the best outdoor experiences I’ve had. It involved hard graft, beautiful scenery, laughs and memories that will last forever.”

Blythswood North Scotland community fundraising manager, Elma MacKay, was thrilled when Ami announced she was doing the trail on their behalf.

She said: “It’s amazing that someone who has never canoed before would take on such a challenge to help others. The funds raised will go to Cornerstone Trust, which is supported by Blythswood Care. Cornerstone works with ladies who are working in the Turbhe red light district, many of whom have been trafficked there and are ‘owned’ by madams. Cornerstone helps children growing up in red light areas gain academic, life and employable skills. The funds raised through Ami’s challenge are so needed and will be well used by the trust.”

For more information visit www.blythswood.org

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