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Luing residents Douglas Hardie and his daughter Ione Russell paddled nearly non-stop for 24 hours in aid of a Ugandan charity DEWODE, set up by Douglas’s wife Pauline 20 years ago.
The kayaking duo followed the route of The Comet, the first paddle steamer to carry passengers to the West Coast of Scotland at the beginning of the 19th-century, from Port Glasgow to Luing.
Ione told The Oban Times: ‘We have been paddling around Luing for years and had the idea to try an overnight non-stop paddle to support the charity. This route seemed fitting.’
Pauline manned pit-stops along the way, aided by Ione’s husband, Gavin, and children Alex, nine, and five-year-old Isabella.
Douglas and Ione set off from Royal West of Scotland Amateur Boat Club and paddled down the Clyde and across Loch Fyne to Ardrishaig. From there, they threaded their way through the Crinan Canal, and continued by sea to Luing.
The next morning the whole family hosted an event in Tobernochy to give people a chance to try kayaking, and some traditional cookies from Africa.
The highlight of their journey was passing out of the Kyles of Bute, where, on beautifully calm waters, they startled a sleeping porpoise.
But the trip also offered challenges. Douglas and Ione were forced to camp in the small hours of the night due to bad weather, and, in the final stretch through Dorus Mor, they struggled against a strong headwind and a turning tide.
The pair arrived home exhausted but filled with a great sense of achievement.
Douglas said: ‘The kayaking was physically challenging, but our friends in Uganda face hardship every day. We came home to hot showers, hot food and comfortable beds, things that are not available in Kobulubulu [the village in which DEWODE operates].’
DEWODE, which stands for Dedicated Women in Development, was started by the women of Kobulubulu in north eastern Uganda as a way to empower themselves after years of political turmoil.
In 1997, Pauline established contact with the project’s co-ordinator and together they built a health centre, which was completed in 2007.
Pauline explained: ‘Previously, they had to walk or cycle 18 miles to the nearest centre for aid. The running of the health centre is entirely dependent on the charity’s fundraising, so we are proud of Ione and Doug’s achievement and the support of family, friends and the community of Luing.’
To support this project, visit www.mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ionerussell1