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Highland Cross smashes fundraising record after 'outstanding' effort

By John Davidson

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Highland Cross finishers raised a record amount in 2023. Picture: Callum Mackay
Highland Cross finishers raised a record amount in 2023. Picture: Callum Mackay

Organisers of the annual Highland Cross challenge event have praised the outstanding efforts of teams after a record-breaking year for fundraising.

Participants who complete the 50-mile duathlon between Kintail and Beauly raised an average of more than £1200 per team of three.

The total raised in the 2023 event was £329,378, which will be shared between five main charities with the remainder distributed to other causes across the Highlands.

John Fraser, long-time treasurer to Highland Cross, said: “The total raised by competitors this year exceeds the £268,907 raised in 2022 and even surpasses the previous record sum raised of £307,566 in 2018.

"This has amazed and humbled us. Over the 39 years Highland Cross has now given charities over £5.9million.”

The two teams organised by Highland Cross stalwart and Highland businessman Willie Gray comprising folk from the Edinburgh-based investment management firm Baillie Gifford raised £33,853 as the top fundraisers this year.

Organisers said their amazing achievement would be recognised with a special award in the new year and the fundraising award for a standard three-person team goes to a team called “Mid Life Crossers", made up of Hamish Matheson, Tommy Dallmeyer and Guy Phillips.

Every penny of sponsorship from the Highland Cross, which first took place in 1983, goes to Highland charities – with the running costs of the event met entirely by entry fees, company sponsors and volunteers.

Calum Munro, organising secretary and co-founder of Highland Cross, said: “With the 39th staging of Highland Cross brought to this amazing conclusion we are now well into the planning for the 40th Highland Cross on June 22, 2024!

Calum Munro praised the wonderful team that makes up the Highland Cross. Picture: Robin McConnell
Calum Munro praised the wonderful team that makes up the Highland Cross. Picture: Robin McConnell

"Over a third of a century of service to Highland communities is something that the wonderful team of volunteers, sponsors and supporting organisations can be justly proud of. Some of our supporters have been with us since the start and in some cases the children and grandchildren of original supporters are now volunteers on the Cross.

"The application list for participants in the 2024 event is already closed due to being oversubscribed. Highland Cross exists to raise money for medical and social causes in the north of Scotland and with the continued efforts of the fantastic community of sponsors, volunteers and supportive organisations that creates the Highland Cross, we look forward to supporting yet more hard-working causes in our 40th anniversary staging of the event."

The five charities selected by the independent panel to receive donations from this year's Highland Cross include Aban, Caberfeidh Horizons and Friends of Cameron House, all of which will receive a new vehicle. Highland Hospice is also getting a new van for its retail department while Partnerships for Wellbeing will receive a new wheelchair adapted car.

In addition to these primary causes, a series of smaller grants will be distributed to charities across the region over the next month.

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