The Jo Walters Trust projects


Two Donside friends have got on their bikes and pedalled 330 miles through France raising over £5,000 for The Jo Walters Trust.

Peter Duke of Muir of Fowlis and his co-cyclist David Parson completed the 550 km trek along the Canal du Midi, which they followed from Toulouse to the Mediterranean Sea.

The men got in the saddle to honour the memory of the Donside woman who their chosen charity is named after.

Joanna Walters was brought up in Alford and flew the nest to go to University and work for Google in Dublin.

She later decided she wanted to direct her talents towards teaching, and tragically in 2010, just after completing her training and being accepted by her school of choice to teach Maths, she was knocked off her bicycle and killed in Brighton.

The trust set up in her name is a charitable body which provides opportunities for people to enrich their lives, and the lives of others, through sport, outward bound, educational and environmental projects, both at home and abroad.

Peter told the Piper: “Joanna was the daughter of good friends who live on the Balloch between Alford and Muir of Fowlis at Tillychetly. Jo was the same age as our daughter, Kirstie. Jo’s elder sister, Lucy, is the same age as our son, Rob.She joined us for skiing holidays and sailed with our son, Rob, so we have always been very close friends.

“She was a real enthusiast who tried everything and had a very strong moral code. When Jo died, her family decided to start a trust in her memory. The Trustees consist of close friends and relations, including our daughter, Kirstie.”

He added: “Having known the Walters family for very many years and particularly known Jo very well, I really wanted to support a local charity knowing that, firstly, every penny will go to deserving causes and secondly, that the trustees honour the legacy left by Jo.”

Peter and David’s challenge was certainly challenging.

The pair had to content with temperatures more akin to their native Aberdeenshire than the South of France and a couple of days of heavy rain, making the tow path treacherous and causing a few tumbles along the way.

The French wildlife wasn’t too friendly either as a wild boar charged across a towpath in front of them.

Peter said: “The wild boar emerged from woodland just ahead of us. David reckons it took one look at me and fled. We were glad it didn’t stand it’s ground!”

But there were also many high points as the pair took in some of France’s most beautiful sites.

From the impressive aquaducts where the canal leaps across rivers to a tunnel 180 metres long, claimed to have been dug in 8 days, there was plenty to keep the cyclists interested.

Their daily blogs are up on the Jo Walters Trust website And donations can still be made on Peter’s web page or to the Jo Walters Trust direct.