INVERNESS Caledonian Thistle players are hoping to score for a children’s charity this winter by ditching their razors.
Star players from Inverness Caledonian Thistle are downing their razors and backing ARCHIE Highland’s Beards for Bairns fundraising campaign.
Members of the Highland capital squad, Welsh international Owain Fon Williams, and striker Ali Sutherland have agreed not to shave for more than a month from Christmas Day, until Burns Night, January 25.
And they are encouraging other men from across the Highlands to join them and also take up the Beards for Bairns challenge.
Both players took some time out to visit the new state of the art Children’s Unit at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
As well as meeting some of the youngsters in the unit they also officially launched the Beards for Bairns campaign.
Goalkeeper Owain Fon-Williams, who himself spent three months in a Welsh children’s unit and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, said the facility was hugely important for the Highlands.
He added: “We have all either got kids or know kids who need to use the unit or may need to at some point so having such a great facility here thanks to ARCHIE Highland is just fantastic.
“For myself having to spend such a long time in hospital I know just how important somewhere like this is for children.
“It’s thanks to the great care I received at hospital that I was able to carry on with sport and I was able to be a footballer.”
Teammate Ali Sutherland is familiar with the unit as his girlfriend Dawn Cowie is fundraising assistant with ARCHIE Highland and she has also spent time as an inpatient in the old facility.
Ali added: “It’s a very deserving cause and it’s local. I know all about the good work that ARCHIE Highland does through Dawn. It’s not only children that benefit from the new unit but also their families as it also provides accommodation for them too.
“It’s very welcoming and nice and bright for all the children and families who visit the unit. We are delighted to be able to support Beards for Bairns.”
Eighteen-year-old Dawn originally from Helmsdale has suffered from kidney problems all her life after having one kidney removed at nine months old.
She added: “It’s fantastic that we have the support of Ali and his teammates. I know through my own experience what a difference it makes to have such a great facility in Inverness and it is something that is close to both our hearts. We hope as many guys as possible embrace Beards for Bairns and help to fundraise for ARCHIE Highland to keep up the good work.”
Ross County Football Club is also supporting the campaign.
It’s the sixth year Beard for Bairns has run, and the ARCHIE Highland team are hoping to make 2016 a record fundraising year.
All the money raised from the unique challenge will be used to support sick children and their families across the Highlands.
Earlier this year the Highland Children’s Unit was built following a campaign by ARCHIE, which encouraged individuals, communities, businesses and organisations across the Highlands to help raise £2 million through fundraising.
The 30-bed inpatient area includes a purpose-built four-bed high dependency unit, a two-bed room for teenagers or patients needing palliative care, drop-down beds for parents and a family room. It also features separate triage and day care areas, an education room, play room and outside play courtyard.
April Emmott, senior nurse with paediatrician services at the Highland Children’s Unit said: “The unit has made a huge difference to children and their families in the Highlands. The environment is great – it’s not cold and clinical but colourful and uplifting.
“We have a very dedicated team here and a high standard of care.
“Although the unit is here the fundraising doesn’t just stop - we still need to ensure that we keep the vision and high standards set for the future.
“Beards for Bairns is a great campaign and this is the perfect time of year to do it.”
Men who take part in Beards for Bairns are asked to share their pictures and stories on the ARCHIE Highland Twitter page @ArchieHighlands
To get involved, individuals have to pledge a minimum of £10.
To sign up or for more information on Beards for Bairns go to: www.beardsforbairns.org
Laura Mackintosh, head of fundraising for ARCHIE in the Highlands, said: “Beard for Bairns is traditionally a really popular way for men to get involved in fundraising, as it’s so easy to do.
“Beards are in fashion, so it’s a great excuse for men to ditch the razor and see what they would grow! It’s also a great fundraiser for workplaces to get involved in over the festive period.
“We also are encouraging all the men in communities all over Highland to share their beard stories with us on Twitter.”
The ARCHIE Foundation (Highland), supports sick children and their families across the North of Scotland.
The charity exists to make a difference for local children when they are sick, in hospital or in need of long-term healthcare.