Berwickshire Wheels make Olympic gesture

Duns archer Ian MacDonald has been nominated to carry the Olympic torch and takes a looks at the map of the route
Duns archer Ian MacDonald has been nominated to carry the Olympic torch and takes a looks at the map of the route

IAin McDonald’s joy at getting to run a leg of the Olympic relay was slightly tarnished last week when it was confirmed that instead of carrying the famous lantern on home turf he would have to travel to Ayr for the once in a lifetime opportunity but now Berwickshire Wheels have stepped in to ensure this is at no added expense.

Celtic fanatic Iain, who has cerebral palsy, is no stranger to the Duns charity having used their four wheeled service on many occasions and to repay Iain’s faith in them, Berwickshire Wheels are offering free transport to get him to the starting point for his Olympic journey on June 8.

The round trip from Duns to Ayr will take around six hours and after he already hired out one bus in anticipation of his trip, Berwickshire Wheels have offered Iain another bus for free, with one being used to transport his excited friends and family who are travelling up to Ayr to see him complete his leg.

On finding out that he wasn’t going to complete his stint in his native Borders, they weren’t happy to say the least with Michaela McIntyre the manager of Station Court, where Iain lives, telling ‘The Berwickshire News’: “Iain is a well known person in the community and he was looking forward to being a torch bearer where all the people who know him could come and see him and of course all the people who nominated him would like to see him here.”

On hearing of the disappointment, Derek Bates of Berwickshire Wheels put the wheels in motion for their kind gesture and said it didn’t require too much thought, given how highly Iain is regarded by everyone involved there.

“It is a massive shame that Iain is having to travel to Ayr for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

“It would have been fantastic for him to have done a leg closer to home but this is our chance to give something back to him.

“We’ve taken him quite far afield before, to Liverpool for a conference but we also pick him up on a regular basis for shopping trips etc as well as days out here and there, usually to Edinburgh.”

The news of Iain’s installation as an Olympic torch bearer comes as Derek is about to make his own journey- into retirement and he said it was rather apt that one of his last decisions in post was to grant a gesture to someone he is incredibly fond of.

“I retire at the end of April after seven years with Berwickshire Wheels and Iain is someone I’ll remember for a long time.

“He’s a great comic and a huge fan of Celtic, something he’s not afraid to let you know about!

“There is no one more suitable for this kind of gesture; Iain does a lot for the community- including being instrumental in getting the new disabled ramp installed at the Royal Bank of Scotland- he’s one of those guys who tends to think of everyone else before himself.”

Carol Boyd has been Ian’s carer for the past four years following his move from Marchmont House to Station Court and said he was as shocked as anyone to be chosen for such an important duty.

“He’s so excited about getting to be part of the relay and wear the special uniform- he’s looking forward to seeing what colour it is.

“I’ll admit that when we first put Iain forward to do the relay we thought he had no chance of being selected in spite of everything he’s done. Iain himself said ‘they’ll choose important people like mayors, people like me don’t get picked.

“I know there are a lot of people in Duns who are disappointed that Iain won’t be part of the relay when it comes through the town on June 14 but I don’t think he’s as fussed as everyone else- he sees it as a trip out to Ayr and he’s happy that all his family will be there.”

“I am going to speak to some local councillors to see if there’s any way Iain can take some part in proceedings when the torch comes to Duns. I don’t want to take anything away from the people who have been chosen but it would be good if he could perhaps do a leg afterwards carrying a flag or an artificial flame. It would be nice for him and his supporters for him to get some recognition in his home town.”

Carol said Iain was overjoyed at the news Berwickshire Wheels would be donating free transport for his journey to and from Ayr, effectively halving the cost of the trip.

“What Berwickshire Wheels have done is absoloutely fantastic and Iain is so grateful to them. It was going to cost him £200 but now thanks to them it’s a lot less.

“We’ve also thought about getting in touch with another Duns charity, the Christie Trust, to see about getting some help from them. Because of his disability Iain requires a hoist to get in and out of bed, something which won’t be available in the hotel in Ayr.

“We’re hoping the Christie Fund might be able to help finance one that we could use up there.”