Comment: CHAS Fundraiser to be gruelling but fun

LATER this month, hundreds of Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS) supporters will be put to the test. Their challenge, which must be completed within 12 hours, includes a 40-mile cycle from Melrose to Woll followed by an 18-mile run – which includes a zip slide over the River Tweed – back to Melrose via Selkirk.

Beat the Borders Pagan Osborne Team, left, which completed the 68-mile cycle and run to raise cash for CHAS in 2013. Picture: Contributed
Beat the Borders Pagan Osborne Team, left, which completed the 68-mile cycle and run to raise cash for CHAS in 2013. Picture: Contributed

Beat the Borders is CHAS’s flagship outdoor event. It is only in its second year but already it has nearly 300 fans.

Thankfully, as CHAS’s outdoor events fundraiser, my role is organising the event rather than taking part. I prefer four wheels to two and would need to put in a lot of training to complete the route. As I said last year, maybe next year!

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What’s great about Beat the Borders is that the event embodies what we do at CHAS, which is creating happy memories.

Many people have negative connotations with the word hospice, but if you visit any of our hospices, shops, offices or events you’ll quickly realise that they are places full or colour, fun and smiles.

We want to create an enjoyable and memorable time for CHAS families, staff, volunteers and supporters and for Beat the Borders we have built in fun activities along the route, with archery and the zip slide (this also gives the competitors an opportunity to get their breath back before completing the circuit).

CHAS is a national charity that supports babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions and their families, so it is pleasing that the challenge has competitors of all ages from around Scotland.

We have families, groups of friends and colleagues and individuals taking part and the youngest is only 13 years old and the oldest 73 years young.

The fact that so many are prepared to travel long distances to take part in this event is a testament to how fabulous and dedicated our supporters are.

There is a great appetite from the public for outdoor and sporting activities (let’s be honest, we all love activities that allow us show off our fun, daring and competitive side) and they capture the public’s mood and attention.

There has been a huge growth in this area in recent years and charities are benefitting because many participants also fundraise so others can benefit from their efforts.

Outdoor events provide much-needed and much-appreciated funds for CHAS, and last year’s Beat the Borders raised £120,000.

Like other charities, we are developing the range of what we can offer to the public. We want to be a charity that people recognise for doing events that are unique, fun and challenging so, over the coming years, Beat the Borders and the Kilt Walks will be joined by other CHAS challenges and we hope the public are as supportive of these as they have been of others.

I am privileged in my job because I get to hear about, and sometimes see, the wacky, challenging or novel ways our supporters fundraise for us.

Abseils, marathons, climbs, canoeing, Kilt Walks, treks across Europe – you name it, and it’s been done in the name of CHAS.

But whether it is a marathon or fun walk, we’re indebted to all our supporters because every single penny they raise really does help us. Quite simply, without their efforts and donations we could not offer the support we do to more than 
350 families across Scotland.

Your efforts allow us to support babies, children, young adults and their families and to give them fun adventures and memories.

So on Saturday 30 August myself and other CHAS staff will head to the Borders to cheer on our wonderful supporters, and while I will not be cycling and running the 58 miles with them, I’ll certainly be doing the route with them in spirit!

• Beat the Borders takes place on Saturday, 30 August. If you are interested in taking part in Beat the Borders visit or contact Alana on 0131-444 4009.

• Alana Maxwell is outdoor events fundraiser for Children’s Hospice Association Scotland