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1st Forres Scout Group raise £1120 for Friends of Blairs Loch by kayaking more than 70 miles


By Garry McCartney

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Setting off on the circuit.
Setting off on the circuit.

A TROOP of 20 youngsters completed a sponsored paddle in aid of a local charity.

Supervised by three adult leaders who also took part, 1st Forres Scout Group kayaked around Blairs Loch from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, raising more than £1120 for Friends of Blairs Loch (FOBL).

Adult paddlers included Scout leader John Innes (right).
Adult paddlers included Scout leader John Innes (right).

Scout leader John Berry was proud of their efforts.

He said: “This was a true community effort after a rough year. We are very proud of them all.”

Volunteer group FOBL have been enhancing the beauty spot off the Grantown road outside Forres for the last two years. As well as opening up access around the loch through clearance of invasive plant species, they have upgraded a boathouse, built walkways and bird hides, and are currently constructing an outdoor learning facility and community meeting place.

Angus, Isla, Esme, John and John paddle away.
Angus, Isla, Esme, John and John paddle away.

1st Forres Scouts secretary Louise Berry confirmed the Scouts had been kayaking there since before the coronavirus pandemic, running taster session for Brownies, Guides and Cubs. However, everything stopped during lockdown.

She said: “We started again in May with support from FOBL and Altyre Estate. It was obvious when we returned that a huge amount of work had been carried out which we benefit from, such as easier access to the water. We felt that we should support the ongoing work.”

FOBL set up a 500m course which the scouts were challenged to complete as many times as they could. Some chose to paddle all day and the 23 participants navigated around 230 times, equating to 115km or 71.5 miles.

“It was an extraordinary effort,” said Louise. “This charity has done so much to allow us onto the water, and in the future will help people gain access to learn and unwind. The money raised will be used to kit out its Stable room with equipment to be used by local schools and groups.”

Participants paddling to the finish line.
Participants paddling to the finish line.

FOBL treasurer Brian Higgs thanked the scouts for their efforts.

He said: “What a brilliant show of community spirit. It was a tough course in warm, windy weather so the paddlers had to work hard.

“We are nearing completion of the new building, that will provide an outdoor learning centre for use by local schools, so it is only right that the money raised by the youngsters is put into something that will be used by youngsters from the community.

"We were pleased to see the Scouts using the loch for their kayaking practice. After all, the work of the volunteers has been done to open up the loch for use by groups like this.

"We are, however, absolutely delighted to receive this level of support from a group of local youngsters.”

Struan approaching the boathouse.
Struan approaching the boathouse.

Once completed the Stable Room, along with the existing Bothy, will be available for use by local schools free of charge and to other groups for a small hire charge.

Anyone wanting further information should contact fofblairsloch@gmail.com

To make a donation visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/Scouts-FoBL?invite=true before Saturday.

Willis and Marcus in tandem.
Willis and Marcus in tandem.


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