Bosnian Army veteran John Baillie will hit his one million metre target this weekend as he takes to the Caledonian Canal on a Hudson canoe.
John, 77, is from Sutherland and now lives in Inverness. Since April he has been clocking up the miles on his rowing machine in an effort to complete his One Million Metre Row.
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.”
John started rowing with the intention to raise £2,019 for veterans’ charity Erskine, but has since surpassed his target, he says: “I set myself the target of raising £2,019, so to have raised nearly £7,000 is incredible.”
“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,” continues John. “People have been so friendly and generous, stopping to talk to me and offering their encouragement both vocally and financially.”
Having been rowing in Tesco supermarkets throughout the North of Scotland since April, John has become a familiar face to many and wants to complete his final mile in style. Taking to the banks of the Caledonian Canal this Saturday (7 September), John will row his final 1,609 metres, welcoming anyone who would like to show him support.
“Saturday will be a special day as I row my final mile on water,” explains John. “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’. 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.”
John’s support and fundraising is invaluable to the charity. 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, 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,” adds Karen.
On Saturday (7 September) John will row to and from Inverness Rowing Club starting at 11am.
You can support John through his Just Giving page.
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