A group of ‘Muddy Truckers’ are helping send a Duns woman to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro thanks to a whopping cheque for over £4,700.
Christmas 2005 brought a bombshell for the Whellans family from Duns. While others were looking ahead to the new year, they were rocked with the news that their son Aaron (then 10) had leukaemia.
What followed was a tough four years as Aaron had intensive treatment and was in and out of the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh, meaning that mum Elaine, dad Adam and sister Jade were often away from their home as they wanted to be by his bedside.
Fortunately in March, 2009, Aaron ended his chemotherapy and was effectively given the all clear.
Now 18, Aaron is able to enjoy life just like any teenager and his mum Elaine is wanting to give some back to the charities that supported her family through the hard times by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in October.
Elaine, who works in the intensive care unit in the Borders General Hospital, will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Cheryl Cole and Chris Moyles who completed the trek in aid of Comic Relief a few years ago .
She will be joined by colleagues Helen Haugh from Eyemouth and Rhona Morrison from Galashiels and a group of other fundraisers from Edinburgh.
Elaine told The Berwickshire: “When I decided to climb Kilimanjaro I was asked to raise a minimum of £1,000 for the charity ‘Its good 2 Give’, but I pledged to raise £10,000 with the help of a local team who have in the past raised thousands of pounds for charity and enjoy a good challenge.
“Neil Redpath came along to one of our team meetings and explained about The Muddy Truckers Challenge which is an event he helps organise every year for charity.
“He suggested that the proceeds from this year‘s event, which was to be held in Duns, could go to ‘It’s Good 2 Give’. I agreed that I would get involved and do as much as I possibly could to help in order to get some of the money for my challenge.”
The Muddy Truckers Challenge is an off-road motoring event which is run annually at different locations around the UK. This year’s Duns-based event attracted 11 teamsd comprising a total of 22 vehicles from as far away as Devon and Ireland.
Elaine gathered together her trusty band of helpers and despite the abysmal weather conditions last weekend they set up camp, lit fires, helped around the sites and generally kept the kettle on the boil providing traybakes and lots of food ready for the teams when they arrived back.
“The generosity was overwhelming.” explained Elaine. “The crews gave numerous donations throughout the weekend and at the presentation in Redpath Tyres’ depot on Sunday it was simply amazing. The total raised had been kept secret from me over the weekend and Neil revealed it to the spectators before letting me know and for once I was speechless - people who know me know this is rare! He presented me with a cheque for a whopping £4266.03 for ‘Its Good 2 Give’. £500 was also donated to Prostate Scotland.
“During the weekend we also served soup, rolls, coffees and traybakes and a donation bucket was on hand and when this was counted we had the final total which was £4704.80.
“A massive thanks goes to all involved especially Billy, Shug and Neil, Davie, Adam and Ian and the ladies Karen, Louise, Janet, Jade, Val, Hazel and Mandy, who all wrapped up warm and helped over the weekend, and to everyone else who donated. Thanks also to all the landowners involved.
“With this event now over it has brought me so close to my target already as the total raised to date stands at £9,008.60.
Elaine is now busy training for her Kilimanjaro trek and is often seen out with her dog Cooper putting in the miles.
“My kids are right behind me wanting to do the trek although they do think I’m mad! I’m quite an outdoorsy kind of person and I’d like to think I’ll be fit enough to do the trek.
“I’m walking loads at the moment, doing about seven or eight miles with the dog every day,” she continued. “People have remarked that I’ve got the most walked dog in Duns !
“My biggest fear is going to be the difference in altitude. With the route we’re going to follow it should take us six days to get to the summit and I can’t begin to imagine how I feel when we get there!”
Muddy Truckers Challenge organiser Neil Redpath was delighted with the response during the weekend.
He said: “We started the event back in March, 2002, in memory of my navigator Steve Maddison who, along his wife, were killed in a horrific accident after stopping at the side of the road to help someone out.
“The event consists of two days of competition with driving challenges, navigational challenges and some more cerebral tasks along the way.
“The money raised through entries etc, 100 per cent of it, is always given to charity and we decided that this year’s Elaine’s cause ‘It’s Good 2 Give’ would be an ideal choice as the event was being held back in Duns.
“The generosity of the crews was simply amazing. Drivers were buying two coffees, handing over £20, and telling Elaine to keep the change. Another driver sold the stereo in his car and donated the cash.”