Shinty clubs together for cancer charity

STICKING TOGETHER: Players and supporters of Skye Camanachd clocked nearly 900 miles last weekend as part of an effort to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Pictured are Jenna Beaton, Grace Maclean, Mhairi Gillies, Freya Turner, Kathleen MacLean, Moreen Pringle. On the bike is Lilidh Campbell, with Ilana Paterson, Kayrn MacRae and Isla Daughtry. PHOTO: Willie Urquhart/WHFP

A big-hearted group of female shinty and camogie players from across Scotland and Northern Ireland have been clocking up the miles this week to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Skye Camanachd and Kinlochshiel players have helped the cause inspired by 40-year-old Una Henry, who was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer.

By Monday of this week the March in March challenge had raised almost £17,000.

Inspired by Una’s strength, Niamh Donnelly and Jenny Durkin, based in Laurencekirk, decided to organise a fundraiser in collaboration with the Women’s Camanachd Association and encourage as many clubs as possible to get on board and do a virtual walk from Aberdour to Glenullen in Derry – a distance of 217 miles.

Niamh (29) said: “Una is being supported by Macmillan, a charity that is very important to a lot of women in our sport who have been affected by cancer. We wanted to give something back and it’s really taken off with over 322 players and supporters now taking part.”

Women’s shinty teams across the country are signing up in their droves, including a few in Northern Ireland. Their challenge will now stretch from Skye, Aberdour, Inverness, Badenoch, Kinlochshiel, Uddingston and Ardnamurchan to Newbridge and Glenullin across the sea.

Skye Camanachd have 10 teams taking part – made up of 57 walkers. Three of the teams have made the 217 mile distance and between them the island club amassed 869 miles over the weekend.

Niamh added: “It was International Women’s Day on Monday so we felt this was a great time to kick it all off, I think that has really inspired everyone.

The challenge we have set is March in March and we’re walking the distance from Aberdour, which was Una’s shinty club, to Glenullin in Northern Ireland – her Gaelic Athletic Association club.

“We’re encouraging all kinds of exercise to be included, so you can walk, run, cycle, kayak, ski, basically do anything you like as long as we can record the miles. We’re just happy to raise as much funds as possible for such an amazing charity and to show our support to Una.”

Overwhelmed by all her former teammates fundraising, Una said: “I’d like to thank all those involved in the fundraising event, especially Niamh and Jenny who set it up. It’s fantastic to see all the support from different clubs across Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“Sport can be a great unifying force and I’m thankful for the friendships and memories I have from playing for Aberdour and Glenullin.

“I would also like to thank Macmillan for the care and support they have shown to me and my family and I hope this event can raise much needed funds for an excellent organisation.”

Lisa MacColl, president of Women’s Camanachd Association, said: “Macmillan Cancer Support is a fabulous charity near to the heart of many of the Women’s Camanachd Association committee.

“When we heard our friend from the Aberdour and Glenullin team was being supported by Macmillan we were keen to get on board and put the March in March challenge out to clubs.

“The response from Scottish clubs and her home club in Ireland plus others has been incredible. With little shinty for the last year and no internationals it’s amazing to see the shinty, camogie and GAA community pulling together to strengthen the bonds of our Gaelic sports.

“On behalf of the WCA I wish everyone taking part good luck.”

Louise Mackay, Macmillan’s relationship fundraising manager in the north of Scotland, said: “What a lovely thing to do in support of Una. I’m sure the teams will clock up lots of miles, go the distance and hopefully have a bit of fun while they’re doing it.

“We anticipate a loss in our fundraising revenue this year and are doing everything we can to limit the impact of this on our services. Our number one priority is to do whatever it takes to support people with cancer in every way we can. The pressure on our frontline services has never been greater and Macmillan desperately need funds to keep providing our vital support.

“So, from everyone at Macmillan, a huge thank you to Niamh and all the women across shinty and camogie for their unbelievable support. Best of luck everyone!”

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