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Islanders take on The Big Minch Swim                   6/5/12

This summer a team of nine from Lewis hope to be the first people to swim one of the widest, and wildest,channels of water between two parts of the British coast.

The Big Minch Swimmers aim to swim 62 miles across the Minch, between Ullapool and Stornoway, to raise funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Set to take place at the end of June, the swimmers plan to trace the route of the Caledonian MacBryanes’ ferry, and cover more than twice the distance of Britain’s more common sea swim, the 35km English Channel.

Last year a number of the team – Saul Hindson, Colin Macleod, Rodney Jamieson, Chris Baker and Tariq Hussain –  were forced to abandon an attempt to swim the Little Minch, between Harris and Skye, by bad weather.

Team spokesman Saul Hindson said: “We learnt a lot from our experiences on the Little Minch swim and we’re taking that knowledge with us as we prepare to take on the Big Minch this year.

“We believe that we’ll be the first to swim from Ullapool to Stornoway and as we all live on a small island, surrounded by some of the roughest waters in the UK, we couldn’t think of a better charity to support than the RNLI.”

Joining the team for The Big Minch Swim are swimmers Scott Connor, Eilidh Whiteford, Laura Maynard and Mark Doug MacIver, along with reserve swimmer Douglas Forbes and support team of kayakers Mark Stokes, PJ Maclachlan and Alistair Glover.

Escorting the Big Minch Swimmers across the open water stretch is Murdanie Macdonald of Lewis company Island Cruising who has donated the time and use of boat MV Cuma, allowing swimmers comfortable rest time during a challenge that is expected to take at least two days.

Murdanie will also be assisted by Stornoway RNLI Coxswain Murdo Murty Campbell as the Big Minch Swim helps to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Stornoway RNLI Station. And shore support will be provided by Eric Mackinnon.

Stornoway RNLI Press Officer and Big Minch Swimmer Eilidh Whiteford said: “Over the last five years as Press Officer for Stornoway RNLI I have come to understand the bravery and dedication of not only the Stornoway crew, but the RNLI volunteers manning the charity’s 236 stations, all keeping the coastal waters of the British Isles and Republic of Ireland safe 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“The Royal National Lifeboat Institution receives no financial support from either the Scottish or UK Governments, with almost all funding derived from donations and legacies.

“The number one reason for our undertaking the Big Minch Swim therefore is to raise as much money as possible for this vital lifesaving charity.”

Donations to The Big Minch Swim challenge can be made safely and securely through a Just Giving site at