Friday 13 October 2017 Issue No. 2257



thanks norman todd

Last Sunday I undertook a 14 mile swim from Achiltibuie to Ullapool along with Colin Macleod from Stornoway and I would like to thank all those who supported us to get to the finish line.

A big thanks to Isobel Cowie who took us up to Achiltibuie and looked after our gear for us. Another big thanks to Suzie Magregor from the fantastic Salt seafood restaurant in Achiltibuie who laid on hot drinks and a spread at our starting point at Achlochan beach. We were joined by 25 people from Coigach who came along to give us an inspiring send off after we were suitably caffeinated and carb loaded. It was such a delight having you all there to support us.

We had two boats escorting us along the route. There was the Freya skippered by Jerry Burne along with Carl Mackay and also the Clarty Basket skippered by Martin Urquhart along with Noel Hawkins, Scott Les and Roisin Daly in support. They were all fantastic and their knowledge and experience gave me such re-assurance. They stuck by our sides the whole day and constantly fed us, kept us on track, humoured and motivated us through some difficult periods. Thank you all so much!

Tim Hamlet was an absolute star. He accompanied us along the whole way in a kayak and he passed on the food to us and gave us so much encouragement. Without him we would have had to abandon the swim within sight of Ullapool. The support boats could not see us when we were swimming in the pitch black but Tim stuck right beside us and took us into the harbour. Thanks Tim!

On the way we were joined by a boat and a kayak from Isle Martin. Emma Planterose organised a day out on Isle Martin for those who wished to support us and I am grateful for all those involved for making a great day on the island and the encouragement they gave at a time when I was struggling against the tide and hypothermia. The rowing club came out to join us and Kathyrn Bennett undertook an impressive swim from Rhue to the Point with a second skiff. John Macrae joined us in his boat and then Paul Copestake appeared alongside us in his yacht. This made an impressive flotilla of support which Duncan Cook filmed with his drone. Thank you all for being there for us!

Food was vital throughout the swim and I would like to thank Mark James Stevens from Alba Sports Nutrition who provided us with a huge amount of electrolyte drinks, training supplements, energy gels and bars.

When we came to the point we noticed a few folk then more and more. There was a huge welcome awaiting us in the dark and rainy weather. The sound of the pipes played by Gregor Couper along with all the cheering and chanting from the huge crowd gave us that extra boost to get us round the harbour. I was not in a very good way, quite hypothermic and fatigued so I was grateful for my son Murdo and Jamie Anderson for helping me out of the water as I could not walk unaided. Also a big thanks to Becky Thomson who had blankets and hot water bottles waiting for me to get me warm again. I was a bit dazed so everything was a bit hazy but I was overwhelmed by the fine Ullapool welcome and I want to thank all of you who came along.

So far the swim has raised around £3000 for the Living Seas Project 'Dolphin Snorkellers' program which gets school children into our beautiful seas allowing them to see marine life and the environment for themselves. I would like to thank all those who have sponsored us and helping a great project for all of the local kids. The generosity of you all has been overwhelming.

I especially want to thank two people who put in so much to help pull this off. Noel Hawkins organised everything for the swim and the sponsorships allowing me to concentrate on the training for the event. He is doing so much for the local community and our local marine environment and it was a pleasure to raise money for one of his projects. Also my big mate, Colin Macleod who is just a cracking guy to have along for such a tough swim. He is highly experienced and very powerful swimmer and he helped me along all the way. We hope to do a lot more swims together in the future.

It was the toughest thing I have ever done in my life and there were moments where I thought I would have to abandon the swim but the support got me through it. We were 9 hours in 10-12 degree waters. In the first half we were making slow progess against a strong tide and the second half I was struggling to hold my body heat. I lost the feeling in my hands and my legs was shivering uncontrollably but I kept moving to generate some heat. I have never felt so cold in my life but I was determined to finish. I lost 5 pounds during the swim and I really took a hammering but I have been thoroughly enjoying guilt free eating gluttony over the last few days. I am proud of what I achieved but I am honestly more proud to have the friends who made up the support team and the Coigach and Ullapool communities who came out to support us. Thank you all...

If you would like to contribute then you can see Noel Hawkins or myself or you can donate online

Norman Todd