University staff raise over £5000 for Befrienders Highland

Staff members from the University of the Highlands and Islands raised over £5000 undertaking fundraising activities during 2018 for Befrienders Highland.

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University of the Highlands and Islands and Befrienders Highland staff members

Colleagues walked, ran and cycled in all weathers, arranged coffee mornings, Christmas jumper days and even endured leg-waxings after Befrienders Highland was chosen as the university’s charity of the year.

Individual members of staff set themselves personal challenges to make contributions. Dean of students, Dr Iain Morrison, with his 16-year-old old son, Keir, from Portmahomack, walked over 100km from Fort William to Inverness along the Great Glen Way, raising £1152. Iain then bared his legs, along with vice-principal, Dr Gary Campbell, from Burghead, and Highlands and Islands Students’ Association members, Graeme Kirkpatrick, from Inverness, and Callum Stephen from Markinch, Fife, in a charity leg-wax.

Postdoctoral researcher at the university and volunteer for Befrienders Highland, Dr Kasia Goszcz, from Inverness, ran the Inverness Half Marathon in March, raising a total of £179. In the spring, Val Cooper, graduate school training officer, from Glenurquhart, walked and cycled five kilometres for 50 days, raising over £110, while later in the summer, academic administrator, Tara Black, from Inverness, raised £160 cycling the gruelling Ride the North sportive. Morgane Artacho, project officer at the university, undertook a very personal challenge throughout the year by running and walking 100 kilometres for every year of her age, and succeeded in reaching 4007km on 31 December.

Other fundraising activities arranged by the university included a World Cup sweepstake, coffee mornings, curry nights and a Christmas prize draw. The events ended with a mince pie and Christmas jumper day at the end of the year. Befrienders Highland will use the money raised to help improve the lives of people, and their carers, in the Highlands who are lonely and isolated and have experience of mental ill health, memory difficulty or dementia.

Welcoming the donation, Susan White, Executive Director at Befrienders Highland, said: “Befrienders Highland were honoured to be chosen as the University of the Highlands and Islands’ charity for 2018 and sincerely thank the staff of the university for all their support throughout the year. We rely on fundraising to keep delivering our service and making a difference in people’s lives, so give thanks on behalf of all the people we support for enabling them to experience the power of friendship”.

Dr Iain Morrison said: “Befrienders Highland is a very special charity undertaking extremely valuable work with some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. It was a pleasure to support them, although my legs are still bald in patches from the waxing and Keir had to carry me on horseyback for the last 20 miles of the walk! But I would do it all again.”

Morgane Artacho said: “I really enjoyed going through this commitment journey. I will keep some fond memories of my encounters with some very inspiring characters during my journey. One of the most appealing features of the Highlands is its remoteness, but that can be a big challenge for people suffering with mental ill health or other issues, who are greatly helped by regular contact with organisations like Befrienders Highland.”

University staff have chosen Mikeysline as their charity of the year for 2019. The organisation works to address mental health problems encountered by individuals in the Highlands and promote awareness and discussion of the issues faced.