Major funding boost for local charities

Banchory Academy pupils are greeted by Sheila Di Maio, in the centre
Banchory Academy pupils are greeted by Sheila Di Maio, in the centre

A team of Banchory Academy teenagers, trekked, cycled and canoed across Scotland to raise funds for charity in honour of their head teacher.

Pupils and staff set off on the gruelling journey in May, covering nearly 350 miles across the Western Isles in just eight days and far exceeding their fundraising target.

The group of S2 and S3 students aimed for £5000 through the expedition for their two chosen charities – Inspire and Friends of ANCHOR.

The team have gone on to nearly triple that, raising £14,600 for the local causes.

The pupils nominated Friends of Anchor as one of their charities in honour of head teacher Sheila Di Maio.

In 2015, she was diagnosed with cancer and began several months of treatment in the Anchor unit. During her fight with the disease, she was unable to continue work at the school.

However the students’ decision to support the charity was in recognition of the care that she had received in the unit during her chemotherapy, radiotherapy treatment and surgery.

Now on the road to recovery, Sheila welcomed home the adventurers to Banchory Academy.

The school has run the expedition for the last eight years, raising more than £103,000 for various charities.

Depute rector Colin Nicoll said: “This year’s challenge was met head on, both in terms of fundraising and the wind direction experienced by all on the Western Isles.

“The pupils worked fantastically hard and helped everyone to the finish line with great enthusiasm and team spirit.

“To undertake such a physical challenge at such a young age and raise so much money in the process for two brilliant charities. I would like to thank all the companies and individuals who supported the trip and made it such a huge success.”

This year’s group of 14 pupils, aged 13 to 14, were joined by four school staff, including Mr Nicoll – who designed the route taking them from Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis before travelling from Ullapool to Tarbat Ness Point via Glen Affric.

Rhona Miller, Friends of Anchor senior fundraising and finance executive, said: “A huge well done to the group for completing their arduous expedition across the West Coast earlier on this year.

“From busking, to bake sales and school dress down days; the group has put in so much hard work over the past few months to raise as much as possible for two local charities.”