Marina, a Retail Buying Manager for Davidsons Chemists in Blairgowrie, is taking on the challenge in memory of her former colleague, Kath Rowbotham, who died from the fatal condition just over 5 years ago.
MND is a rapidly progressing terminal illness, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles. This can cause someone to lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink, and breathe unaided.
Marina is originally from Pitlochry but now lives in nearby Blair Atholl with her family. She said: “I decided to take on the challenge in memory of Kath after Davidsons Chemists made MND Scotland our Charity of the Year for 2019. When Kath was diagnosed over 7 years ago we originally had the idea to raise money for her – but she insisted it went to the charity.
“The original walk was 53.4 miles but when MND Scotland became our company charity of the year this year I knew I had to do it again. I decided to round it up to 55 miles by redirecting very slightly just to make it a wee bit different although it’s around the same route – part of which I vowed never to walk again.
“I’ve actually completed a similar walk twice, the one for MND Scotland and one with my daughter for Barnardos 6 years ago. I've also completed the Moonwalk in Edinburgh, the Great North Run, and the Great Scottish half marathon over the past few years. Unfortunately, as well as being a number of years older than I was for the last walk, I’m probably as unfit as I’ve ever been at this moment in time.”
“I’ll be walking 55 miles in total, from Pitlochry and back again, via Blair Atholl, Dalnacardoch, Trainafour, over to Kinloch Rannoch, then past Schiehallion onto Tummel Bridge, then down the side of Loch Tummel via Foss, and finally back to Pitlochry.
“I won’t be stopping – apart from the usual comfort stops and to take on some food – and I’m hoping to complete the whole challenge in around 24 hours or so.”
Marina’s family will act as her support crew during the challenge, following her during the hours of darkness and bringing much needed food, supplies and encouragement. She plans to keep herself focussed during the challenge by remembering all the good times she had with her friend and former colleague.
She said: “Kath was the Pharmacy Manager at Pitlochry when I worked there and she embodied all that makes a great community pharmacist, with a strong emphasis on the community. Pitlochry was part of Kath, and she was a much valued part of the community and of Davidsons Chemists. She was caring and always had time to listen, full of fun and she loved a party.
“Our team in the branch got on so well, we were a very close team and we all supported Kath after her diagnosis, she always wanted to be kept in the know about what we were all up to after she had to give up working.
“Kath’s diagnosis was a real shock because Kath was always such a fit and active person. Working in healthcare, we have a basic knowledge of most conditions. We knew about Stephen Hawking – but obviously he was an exceptional case.
“Kath loved to run and walk – in fact she would speed walk around town most days. Before my first moonwalk she took me out on a training walk, it nearly finished me off! I had to nearly run to keep up with her walking speed.
“When Kath was diagnosed I told her that there was nobody else I would walk over 50 miles for so it seems right to do it again in her memory.”
Earlier this year, staff members at Davidsons Chemists shortlisted MND Scotland to be their next Charity of the Year. The shortlist was put to a public vote and MND Scotland came out on top after promotional activity via email and social media.
Marina will set off on her challenge on Friday 27th September and will spend the weeks in the run-up gathering sponsorship for the charity in memory of Kath.
Morag McGown, Corporate Partnerships Manager at MND Scotland, said: “I’d like to thank Marina for taking on this incredible 55-mile walk for MND Scotland. The fact that she is aiming to complete this challenge in 24 hours is incredible and so inspiring.
“MND Scotland is the leading charity in Scotland providing practical, emotional, and financial support to people affected by MND, as well as funding cutting-edge research into a cure. We wouldn’t be able to do any of this if it wasn’t for people like Marina, and the incredible fundraising activities which are being driven by staff members across branches of Davidsons Chemists.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be their Charity of the Year for 2019 and we will continue supporting their amazing staff to raise awareness of Motor Neurone Disease and raise funds through collection cans in their pharmacies too.
“I’m wishing Marina all the best for her incredible 55-mile trek for the charity. Everyone at MND Scotland will be cheering her on.”
If you’d like to support Marina on her fundraising challenge, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/marina55