Now that our charity MalDent Student Aid is fully established, we are embarking on a series of fund-raising events. The Kiltwalk, established by Sir Tom Hunter, is an annual series of events run at different times of the year in Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Thousands of walkers from a vast range of charities join these walks to raise money for their respective causes. There is a major additional incentive since Sir Tom Hunter adds 50% to the total raised by each walker, an exceptionally generous act which provides support to a multitude of deserving causes.
We assembled a team from the University of Glasgow Dental School to join 10,000 other participants in the Glasgow Kiltwalk on Sunday 24th April 2022. I was joined by David Conway, his wife Lizanne, Kurt Naudi and Ziad Al-Ani. The event commenced at Glasgow Green, where we were blessed with a beautiful sunny morning and an east-west following wind, conditions which remained with us all the way to the end of the walk at Balloch on Loch Lomond.
The route soon joined the River Clyde, which looked tremendous in the sun, with a backdrop of many of Glasgow’s most famous landmarks, such as the Hydro and the Armadillo.
As the route was about to take us away from the river, we decided on a first group photo opposite Glasgow Science Centre. Ziad is very handy with a camera and an expert on IT. We appointed him as our official photographer for the day and I would like to acknowledge that virtually all of the photos in this post were taken by Ziad. He had come armed with a very fancy selfie stick which also converted into a tripod – it served us well as the day progressed!
Along the route there were a number of pit stops, with toilets available and refreshments. Some of these were provided by participating charities and thanks are due to all the teams of volunteers who helped us on our way with these very welcome watering holes.
We were really enjoying the walk and before we knew where we were we had reached the pit stop at Clydebank Shopping Centre. Here, I had an important phone call to make. My good friend, colleague and Trustee of MalDent Student Aid, Alex Mackay, lives close to the Kiltwalk route between Clydebank and Bowling. Alex had kindly offered to lay on a lunch for us and had suggested I give her a progress report from Clydebank, which was about an hour away from her home. The call was made and final arrangements concluded!
The next section of the walk was through beautiful countryside – stunning blossom, swans nesting and all beneath a bright blue sky.
We reached the landmark white cottage where we were to turn off the official Kiltwalk route, cross the bridge over the canal, and head a short distance to Alex’s house. We received a characteristically warm welcome from Alex and were led out to a sumptuous spread on a table in the back garden. It was an opportunity to rest, re-fuel and enjoy a great conversation, largely focused on our interests and work in Malawi.
We rounded off our lunch with freshly brewed tea and coffee and a group photo, before pulling ourselves away from this very comfortable spot to start the second stage of the walk. Massive thanks to Alex for looking after us so well.
The next leg of the walk took us to Bowling. Just before reaching Bowling Harbour we spotted a houseboat that was sporting a banner for our MalDent Project partners Smileawi, who had also entered a team on the Kiltwalk to raise fund for their fantastic charity.
From Bowling, the route picked up the Bowline, a disused railway viaduct and track with lots of photo opportunities!
By the time we reached Dumbarton, we were beginning to sense that the end was in sight. We remained in good spirits and our legs were holding out well.
This next stretch, along the River Leven, was another very scenic part of the walk, with views to the hills in the distance.
There’s something about a ‘1 Mile To Go’ board that is very cheering! We were among a queue of teams waiting for their picture at this spot – all helping each other by providing a photographer for the other teams in line!
Reaching the finishing line was a fantastic feeling – cheers from the crowd mingling with strains of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers performing in the marquee just ahead of us.
It was time to sit down with a drink on this lovely sunny evening, soak up the atmosphere and proudly display our medals!
For those who are interested in the route and figures, here’s a summary of our team’s Kiltwalk:
If you’d like to see a dynamic representation of our walk, you can view it here.
Finally, our JustGiving page remains operational until 4th May 2022 and is available here.
I’d like to thank all those who have made this fundraiser for MalDent Student Aid possible.
My walking colleagues were fantastic company and really good sports – I hope you’ll join me again next year and that we can put together an even bigger team!
Many thanks to Alex Mackay, not just for a splendid lunch, but also for all the support of our Kiltwalk through your social media channels.
A very big shout out to those who have supported our Just Giving page – at the time of writing we have raised just over £4000.
A special thank you to Martin Aitken & Co, who helped with the set-up of the charity and with its ongoing governance and management. We were proud to include the company logo on our T-shirts.
The Kiltwalk is a massive logistical exercise for the organisers both in the run-up to the event and the day itself. The organisation was first-class and thanks are due to the many official team members and helpers who made it such a memorable occasion.
Finally, huge thanks are due to Sir Tom Hunter, for the original concept of the Kiltwalk and for the amazing 50% top-up that he provides to the donations raised by all the walkers. Our £4000 will become £6000, which will provide significant benefit to those dental students in Malawi who are training to support our long-term MalDent Project ambition of ‘Oral Health for All’.