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Veteran (79) coming to Elgin Tesco for 5000 kilometre fundraising row for Erskine

By Lewis McBlane

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A VETERAN (79) will spend three days on a rowing machine in Elgin Tesco as part of a 5000 kilometre fundraising effort.

John is getting back on his trusty rowing machine to help fellow veterans.
John is getting back on his trusty rowing machine to help fellow veterans.

John Baillie, an veteran of the Bosnian War from Inverness, is rowing the Atlantic to raise money for veterans' charity Erskine.

The feat will be completed on his personal rowing machine at Tesco stores in the north of Scotland and Inverness's Victorian Market, kicking off with public sessions at the Elgin supermarket on August 4, 5 and 6.

John, a former Staff Sergeant 2/51 Highlands Volunteer, serving in the Adjutant General’s Corps, served three tours in Bosnia before working in security and delivery for Tesco after his military career.

Speaking about his challenge, John said: “I fundraise for Erskine as both of my wife’s uncles received first-class care from the charity.

"In addition, everyone I have ever spoken to about Erskine has nothing but the very highest of praise for the care family members received.

"It’s a joy for me to hear such great comments from the general public. It makes all my hard work worthwhile.

"I hope locals and visitors to the area will enjoy coming along to say hello.

"Hopefully a 79 year-old veteran rowing 5 million metres for fellow veterans will mean they’ll chuck a few quid into my collection bucket!”

Erskine, which was founded in 1916, provides a range of nursing and support services for veterans.

With four residential homes in Scotland, in Bishopton, Glasgow and Edinburgh, the charity provides comprehensive nursing, residential and dementia care.

Younger veterans also benefit through social, recreation and training facilities at the Erskine Activity Centre and employment opportunities in partnership with Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Co, both in Bishopton.

The charity is also involved in a bid to provide services for veterans at the disused Leanchoil Hospital in Forres.

Erskine Community Fundraiser Jim Watret said: “It’s an honour that John is supporting Erskine with this incredible challenge.

"John speaks very passionately about his time in the Army and his various charity work over the years.

"I’m sure his rowing challenge will be a great spectacle for people to come and watch, especially with the strong link to the service community throughout the Highlands.

"John’s phenomenal efforts will help us to continue to support almost 1000 veterans each year through our accommodation, activities and employment.”

A spokesperson for Erskine said: "Erskine is a family. Our strength lies in the very special blend of dedicated care, compassion and understanding we offer to our residents and their families.

"When Erskine was founded in 1916, our aim was to care for Service men and women who had been injured in active service.

"Today, care remains the cornerstone of our philosophy.

"We not only care for our Veterans – we care about them.

"As a charity, we rely on the generosity of our supporters to maintain our commitment to care for Scotland’s Veterans – without donations we simply cannot continue this work. If and when the time is right, please remember Erskine in your will."

John will be in Elgin Tesco on August 4, 5 and 6; Tain Tesco on August 11, 12 and 13 and; at the Victorian Market in Inverness on August 25, 26 and 27.

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