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Inverness man makes desperate plea after losing his ‘adventurous’ teddy up a Munro

By Annabelle Gauntlett

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Allan MacRaild and Swanku.
Allan MacRaild and Swanku.

A man who has a love for adventure lost his ‘inspirational’ teddy, which is dressed in a pink tutu, while hiking up a Munro.

Lead research nurse Allan MacRaild (45), originally from Inverness, lost his beloved teddy, named Swanku, between Beinn Lutharn Mhor and Carn Bhac.

Allan was gifted Swanku when he was feeling ‘anxious’ before setting off on his ambition to trek up Kilimanjaro in January 2024.

He said: “I was a little anxious prior to the trip, so I confided in one of my best pals, called Allan Thomson.”

Allan’s friend has completed all the Munros with a childhood toy called, Foxku and in advance of his mission to climb Kilimanjaro, his mum won Swanku in a church tombola.

He said: “I was gifted Swanku as a mascot to provide some company on the hike. She climbed Ben Cruachan with us beforehand and has joined me on every Munro since.

“Swanku dresses in a pink tutu with a golden crown and wears a grayson perry 'Claire' badge because she is highly cultured.”

Swanku, the lucky missing mascot.
Swanku, the lucky missing mascot.

Sadly, Allan lost Swanku when he set out to the Spittal of Glenshee last weekend for a five days of Munro’s with his friend Allan Thomson, his teddy bear friend Foxku, and of course, Swanku.

He said: “The day began very early and we reached the starting point at 6am. Alas it was only then I realised I had brought boots from two different pairs and was facing a 40 km trek in two right-sided boots.

“Undeterred, we set off and were soon joined by a young family who had camped overnight and reached the summit of the first Munro, Glas Tulaichean alongside us.

“Càrn an Righ then Beinn Lutharn Mhòr followed in quick succession. A steep descent led us to a large peat hag and we leapt over bogs as we headed for Càrn Bhac.

“It was only as we approached the ridge to the summit that I became aware my rucksack was open and Swanku had disappeared.

“We tried to retrace our steps but the undulating peat bogs proved difficult to replicate our previous path and it slowly dawned on me that I had lost my lucky mascot.”

Allan MacRaild.
Allan MacRaild.

In a desperate attempt to find his ‘lucky mascot’, Allan put a post up on a few Munro Facebook groups pleading for other hikers to keep their eyes peeled for his precious Swanku.

He said: “The hillwalking community is a friendly bunch who share stories and tips on the hills. It seemed obvious to reach out to the various Munro bagging Facebook Groups. A kind soul might have found Swan.”

To his surprise, the post reached thousands of people and soon became a viral sensation as dozens were on the hunt to find Swanku, as well as share their own mascot stories.

Allan said: “Only a few days later there are over 1000 likes for my original post and it has been shared over 1.7K times. Many people have commented about their own mascots and asked if there is any news of Swanku.

“Offers have come to replace her with similar toys. A lady even offered to crochet a new Swan but she wouldn't be my Swanku.

“I have, however, been genuinely touched by the human spirit and care that people have shown.”

Swanku and her friend.
Swanku and her friend.

When talking about what it would mean to him to be reunited with Swanku, Allan said: “I would be beyond grateful to be reunited with Swanku. She has brought such character and fun to my hiking especially on days when the Scottish weather provides somewhat of a challenge.

“Swanku has become hugely symbolic to me as she has travelled to so many summits. As a younger gay man I didn't believe that macho pursuits like hill climbing were available to me. I have learnt quite the opposite over the past few years. Organisations such as Outdoor Lads have shown me that adventures are for all of us.

Allan MacRaild hiking.
Allan MacRaild hiking.

“A friend remarked to me this week that maybe Swanku is like Mary Poppins - she came at exactly the right moment, gave me a new perspective and left when I learned something important about myself.

“It would be amazing to have her back but I won't lose what she has already given me.”

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