A freelance shepherd from the Scottish Borders will cycle the entire Scottish coast this summer to raise money for international development agency Christian Aid.
Arthur Cross, aged 50, from Kelso, will cycle an average of 90 miles a day to complete the 1,300-mile ride in a fortnight, travelling clockwise from Gretna in the southwest to Berwick–upon-Tweed in the Southeast.
Starting on Thursday 1 July 2010, Mr Cross and his friend Ian King, a teacher from Yetholm, will stop at various towns and villages en route to raise awareness of Christian Aid’s climate change work.
The pair will meet local Christian Aid groups but also hope to meet a new audience and to raise £5,000 for important development work in Burkina Faso.
The money will go to two partners in a match-funded partnership scheme, ‘Office de Developpement des Eglises Evangeliques’ (ODE), and ‘Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe’ (HELP). Every pound raised by Christian Aid will be matched by another four pounds from the European Commission.
Arthur and Ian say they hope to generate £20,000 towards the UK-based aid agency's partners’ work, which aims to reduce chronic poverty and hunger for nearly 1 million people by adapting the environment to grow more crops.
"The whole thing is very appealing," said Mr Cross. "I’m looking forward to going up to the Western Isles, meeting people and helping them to get an understanding of what we are doing. I want to get across just how difficult it is for people living in places like Burkina Faso and what a big difference a small amount of money can make."
The shepherd, who also works as mental health support worker for the Scottish Association for Mental Health, has cycled on and off throughout his life but only discovered the joys of road cycling as he got older. His co-cyclist Ian King cycles nine miles to and from his school each day.
The pair has undertaken two previous fundraising cycle rides, one through cities in the Central Belt and one tracing the shape of the AIDS ribbon through Scotland. Each ride raised £3000 that was split between Christian Aid and the Scottish Borders Africa Aids Group.
The scale of the 2010 challenge encouraged them to work closely with Christian Aid and make the most of the charity’s close local links throughout rural Scotland.