Army Veteran John Baillie will hit his amazing One Million Metre target this weekend by taking to the water on a Hudson canoe.
John, aged 77, who hails from Durness in Sutherland and now lives in Inverness, has been clocking up the miles on his trusty rowing machine since April raising nearly £7,000 for Erskine’s Veterans.
Having become a familiar face in the North in recent months when rowing in Tesco supermarkets, John wanted to complete his final 1,609 metres (one mile) in style. Anyone who would like to support him on his final row on the banks of the Caledonian Canal is encouraged to join him on Saturday (7th September).
Speaking about his challenge, John, a former Staff Sergeant with the Adjutant General’s Corps 2/51 Highlanders said: “Having served in the Army I am very aware of the difficult experiences so many Service men and women go through so I wanted to do something to help the charity Erskine continue their wonderful work caring for Veterans. The support I have received from the locals and visitors in every area I have been to, from Elgin in the East, to Ullapool in the North, has been overwhelming. People have been so friendly and generous, stopping to talk to me and offering their encouragement both vocally and financially.
‘I set myself the target of raising £2,019 so to have raised nearly £7,000 is incredible. Thanks go to everyone who has donated to me by throwing coins into my collecting bucket when they have seen me or by donating through my justgiving page. Your support means the world to me. I also have to thank Tesco for being so accommodating, allowing me to row in their stores; the traders in the Victorian Market in Inverness and the gym staff at the Inverness Leisure Centre who have been a fantastic support. Not forgetting my family and friends for their encouragement.
‘Saturday will be a special day as I row my final mile on water. I have been practising on the canal for a couple of weeks with the assistance of Inverness Rowing Club especially Paddy. I am not sure how I will feel when the challenge is complete but I will certainly miss the ‘craic’! I have heard some great stories from former staff and relatives who had nothing but praise for Erskine. It has been an amazing journey for me. I feel humbled and privileged to have heard so many personal stories from young and old who so appreciate our Service as Veterans to this country.”
Erskine Community Fundraising Manager Karen McAulay said: “John is a man in a million without doubt! His enthusiasm, energy and good humour are infectious. We have watched in awe as he rowed his way towards One Million Metres to fundraise for our Veterans. In July, John was rowing on the hottest day of the year in Tesco in Inverness. He is an inspiration to us all and we cannot thank him enough for everything he has done to raise such a fantastic amount for the care of our Veterans in our four Care Homes. We wish John a brilliant final row and are very much looking forward to his visit to The Erskine Home in Bishopton later this year.”
On Saturday John will row to and from Inverness Rowing Club starting at 11am.
If you would like to support John you can give via: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-baillie4