Ten-island challenge documentary receives warm reception at premiere

Ally K is joined by ultra runners Fiona Rennie and Pauline Walker at last Saturday’s premiere at Aros.

An audience of 130 people were in attendance at Aros on Saturday night (Saturday 15th September) to watch the premiere of the Ally K 10-island challenge documentary.

The film shot, directed and edited by Portree resident Hugh Campbell follows the journey of Ally ‘K’ MacPherson during his 120-mile, non-stop run through Vatersay, Barra, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, Grimsay, North Uist, Berneray and Harris, which culminated in a hero’s welcome at the finish line in Portree 36 hours later. The challenge took place in May and was in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

Speaking after the premiere, Hugh Campbell told the Free Press that although he was anxious ahead of the screening, he couldn’t be happier with the response to the film: “I was very nervous beforehand, but the documentary was very well received – there was laughter, there was crying, people really engaged with it – I couldn’t have hoped for a better response.

“It was great to see the film on the big screen and shown in the same format as Hollywood movies – the trailer for documentary was screened alongside the likes of the new Mission Impossible film!”

The theatre at Aros starts to fill up ahead of the screening.

While the screening of the documentary took centre stage – a raffle, auction and, ceilidh – led by the unmistakable 5-piece, Sheepshank Redemption – also took place, helping to enhance the sum raised for charity. The evening’s events generated £3,400, bolstering the sum raised to a total of £18,106 – which will go directly towards Macmillan services in the Highlands and Islands.

“Aros were really supportive in showing the film and providing the venue for the post-event night, so I’d like to thank them for all their help.” Said Hugh. “I would also like to thank Skipinnish, Manran and Skerry Vore for allowing us to use their music in the documentary, and Sheepshank Redemption for performing on the night. To raise that sum of money for Macmillan that will be used in the Highlands and Islands and hopefully make a big difference is great.”

Sheepshank Redemption got people up on their feet at the post-event ceilidh.

“The reaction to it on social media has also been very positive and Macmillan loved it, which is great.” He went on to add: “I’m an amateur and this is my first major project – and it was a challenging experience filming in the rain and high winds, but when I saw it on the big screen it was worth all the effort.

Willie Urquhart captures Hugh Campbell in action as he films Ally’s hero’s welcome in Portree as he completes the challenge.  Photo credit: Willie Urquhart.

“It’s all about going out and making mistakes and learning from them, I have just taught myself so far but perhaps I might go on to pursue more formal lines of training. Once day I hope to be able to write, direct, produce and edit a production on my own.

During his venture, Ally was accompanied by a team who took care of the nutritional, safety and logistical elements of the challenge, and he was also joined three top-level and vastly-experienced ultra-runners: Fiona Rennie and Pauline Walker from Fife and Andy O’Grady from Kilmuir, who took turns to pace him across the two days.

Ally and his team celebrate the completion of the 10-island challenge. Photo credit: Willie Urquhart.

Explaining the driving force behind his venture prior to the run, Ally told the Free Press: “We have been heavily affected by cancer in our family and have lost lots of family members including both my in-laws, as well as my father’s brother, my mother’s bother, and seven of the guys I have worked with on the boat with CalMac – it’s unbelievable.

“Macmillan helps Skye cancer care, and it helps the Western Isles cancer groups too. People will benefit out of this, it is not as if the money is going to go down to London. Macmillan nurses were heavily involved in the care of my mother-in-law and they do a fantastic job, so I chose them to give them a bit of help and encouragement.”

Article by Adam Gordon

Photographs unaccredited above have been provided by Love Skye Photography / Landscapes 365.