Former Hearts star Allan Preston joins pal on Arctic charity trek

A BBC Scotland football presenter and his best friend from childhood are undertaking an Arctic Challenge for charity to honour their mothers who passed away within days of each other.
Alan Preston and Keith Sands are doing an arctic challenge for charity. Picture: ContributedAlan Preston and Keith Sands are doing an arctic challenge for charity. Picture: Contributed
Alan Preston and Keith Sands are doing an arctic challenge for charity. Picture: Contributed

Former Hearts and St Johnstone star Allan Preston will travel with Keith Sands to Helsinki in January before heading to an Arctic Trek organised by the Children 1st charity.

The pair, who were at Leith Academy together in the 1980s, vowed to do something having both turned 50 this year.

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Sands’ mother Liz died on the day of Preston’s mother Jeanie’s funeral but that did not stop him attending to support his friend. The pair have been training under the watchful eye of Jordan Taylor at the Nuffield Health Edinburgh gym.

Preston said Sands took a bit of convincing as the pair will be sleeping in tents alongside 14 other people who they don’t know, trekking in temperatures that can drop to -30C.

He said: “It’s a big thing and it’s not for everybody – so I had to convince Keith. We always said we would do something for our mums after what happened to them.

“My mum was getting buried and his mother died that day.

“I got asked to do the Arctic Challenge and thought I’ll get someone to do it with me.

“There are 16 people in total going and we don’t know the rest. I would have done it on my own but it’s great to do it with somebody”

The pair have so far raised around £30,000 for Children 1st, Scotland’s national children’s charity, through a JustGiving page and series of fundraising events including a golf day at Duddingston Golf Club in Edinburgh and a charity day hosted by BBC Radio Scotland Off the Ball presenter Tam Cowan.

Preston, who has had both hips replaced, said the training regime had given him back his appetite for exercise.

He added: “It’s been brilliant, Keith did nothing apart from breakdancing at school – he was never in the football team.

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“The only thing you can’t train for is the weather and the cold – unless you go and sit in a fish factory at -25C. I’ve lost about nine pounds but my body shape is completely different.

“Because I’ve had both my hips done I’ve not done any serious exercise for years but I’ve fell back in love with exercise and going to the gym again.

“I did it for all those years as a player and when I stopped playing I just thought, ‘leave me alone’.”

Sands said: “I feel proud to be doing this Arctic trek in memory of my mum although it took Alan over six weeks to convince me as it’s well out my comfort zone.

“The training is going very well under Jordan Taylor and Children 1st is a worthwhile cause. I’m looking forward to getting to the Arctic although not so much the weather conditions when it drops to -30 at night.”

Regan Johnson, senior community fundraiser at Children 1st, said: “Allan and Keith share a brilliant sense of fun and an incredible commitment to making the most of our Arctic challenge. We are absolutely delighted that they are part of team Children 1st and feel honoured that they’ve chosen to remember their mums by raising as much money as they can.”

Donate to Allan and Keith’s JustGiving page here.

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