A voluntary broadcaster from Portree has set himself the hair-raising challenge of skydiving from a plane outside Dundee this weekend to raise much-needed funds for Radio Skye’s ‘Cram the Van’ campaign.
Marty MacKillop has volunteered as a presenter at Radio Skye for more than a decade and has also previously served as a board member where he played an important role in the rebrand of the station as it switched from Cuillin FM in 2020.
This weekend, Marty has pledged to jump out of a plane in a skydiving challenge near Dundee to promote the station’s vital annual fundraising drive – the “Cram the Van” Christmas Appeal.
Working alongside local groups such as the Highland Council social work department, the Skye and Lochalsh Community Food Bank, Skye and Lochalsh Citizens Advice Bureau, and Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers, Radio Skye’s campaign seeks to provide toys and vouchers for local children – babies to teens – who will appreciate it most during the festive period.
In 2021, more than 220 babies, children, and teenagers across the Skye and Lochalsh area received toys and gift vouchers thanks to Radio Skye’s festive appeal.
Speaking to the Free Press ahead of his Radio Skye Dive, which will take place above Errol just outside of Dundee on Sunday, Marty said: “The idea was to do something that would draw enough attention to the appeal, it is really that simple.
“I hope that because I am willing to do this, people will then sponsor the appeal. It is a brilliant campaign that the station has been proudly running for several years.
“With the cost-of-living crisis this year, it is even more essential that the appeal succeeds and surpasses last year’s efforts.”
Marty, who works as a welfare rights officer at the Skye and Lochalsh Citizens Advice Bureau, added: “The difference with this appeal and why it is so important is that it is in collaboration with a number of agencies across Skye and Lochalsh that operate in different sectors and work with different types of people with different issues.
“Because of that range of partners, it hopefully catches as many disadvantaged people and families as possible, and Radio Skye can act as a hub for that.”
“Volunteers that are presenters at the station get involved as well and help sort out the gifts as well. It is vital and it is really something for the local community.”
Radio Skye Trustee Katie MacKay said: “This year we thought it would be fun to do some new fundraising challenges for Cram The Van, we are really proud of Marty for taking on a skydive.
“We have more fundraising plans to come so watch this space.”
Asked whether he took much convincing to sign up for the challenge, Marty explained: “People who know me, know I have a slight obsession with James Bond.
“As an 11-year-old, I saw the film ‘The Living Daylights’ where at the start Timothy Dalton jumps out of a plane and does a skydive, and ever since then I thought that looked like good fun.
“But then it was Suzy (Marty’s wife and the Radio Skye station manager) who suggested it. And obviously if your wife throws down the gauntlet then I must pick it up and run with it, so I had no choice!
“I am definitely going to be nervous about it, who wouldn’t be?
He added: “I have seen a few videos about it, and people say that the fear comes at the point when you’ve literally just stepped off the aircraft, and then apparently there is a moment of bliss afterwards, so that’s what I am looking forward to.”
If you would like to support the Cram The Van campaign, you can contact Radio Skye station manager Suzy Lee on 01478 611796 or via firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can donate via the Radio Skye website here
Article by Adam Gordon and image by Willie Urquhart.