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Highland Heroes 2024: Fundraiser shortlist revealed – VOTE NOW!

By Leah Williamson

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Here is the fundraiser shortlist...

Daisy Mckenzie

Daisy Mckenzie
Daisy Mckenzie

First-time fundraiser, Daisy Mckenzie, has tirelessly dedicated her free time to supporting the Held in Our Hearts charity as a way of giving back for the support they had given her.

When Daisy and Eoin lost their little boy, Albie, Held in Our Hearts was there to provide counselling and peer support. Daisy wanted to thank the charity but also create a legacy for her son and has been fundraising ever since. She has helped raise over £40,000.

The first event was a fun night, followed by fundraising quizzes, and parties, and a sponsored walk which raised £10,000. The event saw 40 friends and family collectively cover the distance from the Highland capital to Mount Everest! And a friend who was making the journey to Everest Base Camp took a photo of Albie and a Held in Our Hearts flag to the world-famous site.

Other fundraisers included baby singing and baby sensory classes (which Albie loved), bake sales and Christmas fayres. This year there was a Valentine’s Day-themed event and a 22-strong group took part in the Inverness Half Marathon.

There are more fundraising events planned for later in 2024 including a quiz on April 12 in Smithton, close to Albie’s birthday on April 13 and Eoin and a group of colleagues are climbing Ben Nevis in aid of the charity.

Daisy said her fundraising efforts had helped her in so many ways and was delighted it had supported Held in Our Hearts: “Fundraising for the charity has not only helped them but also us as a family. We have somewhere to direct some of the enormous love we have for Albie. The fact that’s recognised, I appreciate it so much.”

Heather and Kevin Bannerman

Heather and Kevin Bannerman
Heather and Kevin Bannerman

What started out as a way to say thank you to Highland charity, Dream Believe Achieve, has turned into a hugely successful cycling challenge that has raised over £150,000 in just two years!

Heather and Kevin Bannerman, Culbokie, decided to organise a fundraising event in 2022 as a way of giving back to the charity which had been a great support to them and their son, Liam, who has cerebral palsy.

The Bridge to Bridge challenge saw around 100 cyclists riding 78 miles from the Skye Bridge to the Kessock Bridge in Inverness.

A nomination said: “Heather and Kevin work tirelessly to raise money for Dream Believe Achieve Highland, a charity that supports children and families with special needs. Without them, there would be countless families unable to access the funds to pay for specialist support for their children in the Highlands.”

In 2022, the first event raised £57,000 for the charity, and last year, it raised £102,000 which was shared between the charity and also the Elsie Normington Foundation’s Haven Centre in Inverness, a multi-purpose centre for children and young people with severe learning disabilities.

Heather stressed, however, the nomination was for everyone involved in putting the event together; from all of the volunteers, their neighbour who managed the road safety side and all of the riders who took the challenge to their hearts.

She said: “The nomination shouldn’t be to Kevin and I but to the group of over 100 volunteers and other people involved in organising the whole event, all of the riders, and businesses who have been involved ‒ it’s much wider than just Kevin and I.”

Kelly Macrae

Kelly Macrae
Kelly Macrae

Delighted to have been shortlisted, Inverness mum Kelly Macrae admits that it’s a welcome distraction from worrying about her daughter’s severe complex health issues.

Nine-year-old Amelia was born at 32 weeks weighing only 3lb. She was diagnosed with global development delay, autism, is non verbal, and has epilepsy. Kelly promised herself that she would fundraise to help other children and families enduring ill health.

Thanks to the support of her 13-year-old daughter Savannah, Kelly has raised more than £85,000 which has been put to good use by Drummond School, and the special care baby and renal units at Raigmore Hospital. They’ve repeatedly raised funds for the children’s ward at Raigmore Hospital.

Kelly said: “The real hero isn’t me. It’s my daughter Amelia and her older sister Savannah (13). Savannah understands what it’s like to be the sibling of a sick child so she has raised more than £1,000 and bought toys for the children in hospital over Christmas and their siblings. She knows that the siblings are often forgotten about and she wanted to make sure they had a Christmas to remember.”

Kelly also set up Amelia’s Young Highlander Awards to recognise inspirational young people in the Highlands and give them a night to remember.

“If I’m fortunate enough to win this award I’ll accept it on behalf of me and Savannah. If Amelia could speak I know she’d say how proud she is of her big sister for looking after her and all the other children whose lives are impacted by ill health.”

Kelly and Savannah were also jointly nominated for Carer of the Year.

Sponsoring the fundraiser of the year award is Sharon Leon.

Director, Jeni Alexander, said: “Sharon Leon is absolutely delighted to once again support this fantastic event that recognises and celebrates some of the wonderful, kind, supportive, inspiring and resilient people in our community.”

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