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Belgian adventurer Pierre De Greef -– who now lives in Stornoway – is crossing Scotland on foot to raise money for the Macaulay College community venture.

Back in summer 2018, he was thanking the many Islanders who offered to help him out after his tent and gear were damaged by vandals in the Castle Grounds.

Writing on the Facebook Page on Tuesday (June 12, 2018) he said: “Your comments have touched me a lot and I thank you very much for your many proposals for help of any kind.”

Now he’s asking for public support again through a JustGiving page, as he takes part in the Great Outdoor Challenge 2022, from Strathcarron to Montrose, a 373Km walk across Scotland, as he is raising funds for Macaulay College CIC in Marybank.

This is his third participation in the TGO and he left on May 10 at 9am from Strathcarron and aims to arrive at Montrose Park Hotel 14 days later, on May 23 before 5pm after having walked approximately 373km and bagged 21 Munros.

The Challenge takes place every year in the month of May and consists of crossing West-East across Scotland in a maximum of 15 days. The challengers trace their route themselves, individually or in groups of two to four participants. Their route map must then be submitted for approval by a vetter who checks the feasibility of the route and the alternative routes for the stages including difficult passages or at altitude in the event of bad weather.

Pierre De Greef…in 2018

Why did he choose to try to support Macaulay College?

“Well, first because I was particularly touched by the article published in The Courier in August 14, 2021 in which Roland Engebretsen, the director, described the tremendous dynamics and enthusiasm that emanated from the commitment of the students.

“In our society, where profitability has become an overriding criterion, outrageously valued, vulnerable people with specific needs have more and more difficulty finding a place; these environments allowing them, through specifically adapted activities, to access a meaningful and fulfilling professional and social life is absolutely to be supported by all means.

“Then, from a more personal point of view, having a sister with additional mental health needs, herself in residential care in Belgium, I am more particularly aware of the multiple difficulties that these people encounter every day to build a place for themselves in society and to the distress of their loved ones facing the glaring lack of structures adapted to their specific needs.

“Macaulay College urgently needs funding to carry out the work to expand and optimise its existing student facilities options.

“My aim is to raise 90% of the costs for the full insulation and plywood lining of one of the two massive timber buildings (L12m x l6m x h3m), built during lockdown as socially distanced workspaces and animal care areas, which will make them warm and comfortable for the students’ activities.

“Please give generously to support the development of this extraordinary human adventure which is the Macaulay College!”

Pierre adds: “Following a fall during the ascent of a Munro in early March, I am still recovering from a stretched ligament and damaged cartilage in my left knee. This puts a little pressure on me when it comes to accomplishing the challenge in its entirety, but I take with me a tremendous dose of motivation forged in the hope that you are willing to give generously to support the development of this extraordinary human adventure which is the Macaulay College!”

Strathcarron in the early morning