Happy campers aim to beat lockdown charity hit

Carry on camping with The Simpson family in Appin. Charis, Niamh and mum Susan smile for dad Andrew's camera.

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A family who founded a  charity to give bereaved families a break, is camping out for 26 nights to make up for lost funds during lockdown.

Susan and Andrew Simpson with their daughters Niamh, 11, and Charis, 15, have turned their Appin garden into Tentland.

Mum Susan Simpson with daughters Charis and Niamh in Tentland, Appin.

They are taking part in the TwoPointSixChallenge launched to help save UK charities losing millions from COVID-cancelled fundraising events, including the 26-mile long London Marathon which should have taken place on April 26.

The first sleep under canvas on April 26 was ‘baltic’ said Susan, but they are determined to carry on camping for their own charity which is so close to their hearts.

The Simpsons, who experienced the loss of two baby girls, started Anam Cara Fasgadh 10 months ago to provide a network of respite accommodation for grieving families.

More than £20,000 has been raised so far, but COVID-19 has hit plans to open their first caravan at Tralee Bay next year

Dad Andrew was planning on climbing Ben Nevis the weekend before Father’s Day in June with more than 125 other hikers who had signed up for The Big Steps for Small Feet night time challenge, with only moonlight and torches to light their way.

Because of COVID, the event has now been put off until June 2021.

Anam Cara Fasgadh was just one of 10 child bereavement charities set to benefit from the night hike organised by another of the charity’s trustees Michael McGuire from Fort William in memory of his stillborn son Kyle.

A line-up of other fundraising events were also being planned for Anam Cara Fasgadh this year, including a spring ceilidh in Oban.

Susan said: ‘We have been so blessed that over the last 10 months we have managed to raise £20,000 towards our caravan at Tralee Bay. But our fundraisers are now unable to take part in organised challenges and events due to lockdown. We have regretfully had to move our Ben Nevis Night Challenge, Big Steps for Small Feet, to June 2021 – a disappointing but necessary decision to protect the 125 plus challengers who were joining us for that event.’

The Simpson family are being, occasionally, joined in Tentland by pet cats Ollie and Maurice.

‘If anyone can spare the cost of a cup of coffee, the girls would be delighted if they would donate £2.60 or more if they choose,’ said Susan who has is fit and well after a suspected case of coronavirus, and is back working  as a member of Oban High School’s support staff helping with a children’s hub, food parcels and welfare checks during the COVID outbreak.

To make a Tentland donation go to just giving.com/team/TheSimpsonCampers

If anyone is inspired to come up with their own 2.6 Challenge or set up camp at home for Anam Cara Fasgadh, they can email Susan Simpson at susan.simpson@anamcarafasgadh.org