Befriending Lewis celebrated a true milestone on Saturday (December 15th) as small-change donations completed a mile of pennies collected for the group.

The charity, which tackles loneliness and isolation by providing group activities and one-to-one befriending support, set out to make a mile of donated pennies in July this year.

A total of 52 collecting boards, each holding 800 coins, have been collected at designated days at Tesco’s, Stornoway Co-op and during the Westside Show in July. Iceland on Cromwell Street was Saturday’s collection point for the final big push.

Co-ordinators said that over 45,760 coins have now been donated, with more bags of change still coming into the Befriending Lewis office at Third Sector Hebrides on Francis Street.

Befriending co-ordinator Iain Macdonald said: “Now the hard work really begins as we have to count every coin donated. In the early stages all the coins were pennies, but as we went on people began to give larger denominations and we have no idea what the total will be. A mile of pennies would be £800 and a mile of pound coins £64,000 – so it will be somewhere between the two!”

Long collection days from 8am to 8pm meant a lot of dedication from befriending volunteers, but Iain said the appeal had also given them a chance to raise awareness about the local group and to meet lots of people. He said it was great to announce ‘mission accomplished’ before the end of the year.

Volunteer befrienders will also be on the counting team and it’s hoped there can be a total announcement soon. Meanwhile coins can still be donated at the Befriending Lewis office at 30 Francis Street and Iain urges anyone with change bottles or full purses to drop in spare cash and increase the total.

The pictures show volunteers Alison Driver, Angela Bryden and Kenneth Macaulay during collections at Iceland on Cromwell Street and the Co-op on Macaulay Road, Stornoway.