A team of staff working for The MacRobert Trust in Tarland, Aberdeenshire has embarked on a ‘soggy’ challenge to swim the length of the River Dee, a distance of 87 miles, in the Douneside House Leisure Centre swimming pool. Staff will swim a total of 11,667 lengths throughout the month of February to raise money for the local branch of SSAFA Forces Help as well as the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Cardiology Unit, as part of National Heart Month.
The MacRobert Trust has long-standing links with the Forces. Many donations are awarded annually to charities with links to serving and retired members of the Armed Services and, from May to October, over Christmas, over Easter and during some winter weekends, Douneside House provides subsidised holiday and respite accommodation in a Scottish country house style for serving or retired commissioned officers of the Armed Services and their families. For the rest of the year it serves as a commercial conference centre used by organisations in the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire area.
The swimathon challenge was the idea of a member of the Leisure Centre staff, Mrs Jo Fraser. The event was launched by Trust Administrator, Air Commodore Bob Joseph, and his wife, Jan, on 1st February when each swam a number of lengths. The idea is that staff will take turns swimming lengths until they have completed the distance. To date 7,300 lengths have been accomplished; the team is already well past Aboyne and heading downstream to the mouth of the River Dee at Aberdeen!
Six-year-old Connie Smith, a pupil at Tarland Primary School pupil and the youngest swimmer in the event, will swim the final lengths. Connie was born with a hole and weak valve in her heart and had received treatment for her condition from the cardiac experts at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. She has teamed up with her mum, Andrea, who works at Douneside House. At least two other members of The Trust’s staff have received life-saving treatment in the Cardiac Unit and are taking part.