The team involved in the successful charity fund-raising swim from St Kilda to the Isle of Harris last August won official recognition for their feat on Thursday January 14th with a special presentation by the Lieutenancy of the Western Isles.
Each of those involved in the swim - whether the swimmers themselves or the support team members – received a personal letter of thanks from the Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles, Sandy Matheson.
Sandy was accompanied by his Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Donald Martin at the presentation to those members of the team who were available to attend the short formal event held at the EVENTS newspaper office in Stornoway, where one of the swimmers, Eilidh Whiteford is a reporter and feature-writer.
Meanwhile the St Kilda Swim Team have been shortlisted for a National Adventure Award. They need your help to scoop the public vote, and Sandy Matheson encouraged Islanders and supporters further away to join in the vote. here
The National Adventure Awards 2016 celebrate the very best of adventure across England, Wales and Scotland; and the St Kilda Team are one of seven adventure groups to battle it out to take the ‘Team of the Year’ title, as well as being entered for the Public Vote award.
The island based team made history in August 2015 when the seven swimmers, swimming in relay formation, successfully completed a 60mile route through the North Atlantic from St Kilda to the Isle of Harris.
Believed to be the first of its kind, the feat received recognition through Early Day Motions tabled in the Scottish Parliament by MSP Rhoda Grant, and in Westminster Parliament by MP Marion Fellows.
Swim Team Captain, Colin Macleod, said: “The St Kilda Swim Team are delighted to be shortlisted for the National Adventure Awards, but we’re definitely feeling like the underdogs when you see what some of the other teams have done.”
Also competing for the National Adventure Awards Team of the Year are the Eiger Paraclimb 2015 – a group of British paraclimbers who tackled the West Flank route of The Eiger in Switzerland; as well as Robbie Phillips and Willis Morris, who became the youngest team to complete the North Face of The Eiger last year.
A team of 11 rugby players who trekked 60miles to the magnetic North Pole to set the Guinness World Record for playing rugby on the northernmost part of the world are also competition; along with a father and son who undertook a canoe expedition down the wild rivers of the Yukon in Canada; a two-man team who completed a 500km run through the Namib Desert; and David Lintern and David Hine who took on the C2C4K challenge of walking and paddling from coast to coast, climbing the nine tallest mountains in the UK on the way.
In his official letter to each of those involved in the St Kilda swim, Sandy wrote: "I am writing to extend my warmest congratulations to you on behalf of our community for your tremendous achievement in completing the St Kilda Swim 2015 in aid of four local charities.
"Your energy and enthusiasm, combined with courage and sheer determination, demonstrate the strong community and sporting spirit which exists within our islands. The four charities involved are indebted to you and your fellow swimmers, the support vessel crew and the support kayakers in raising the magnificent sum of £21,505.
"You richly deserve our admiration and thanks - well done indeed.
And in his remarks Sandy said: "Apart from the hazards and discomforts of doing the actual swim, it's equally important for me to stress what wonderful ambassadors you have been for the Western Isles.
"To have thought of going to St Kilda, a site of historic international interest , anyway shows a power of imagination, to undertake the swim shows resilience, courage, a whole host of other things."
He added that the lieutenancy could only express thanks as it did not have the resources to organise a proper reception.
The team of seven swimmers, along with three support kayakers and support vessel mv Cuma from Island Cruising, completed the 60 mile swim route from Village Bay, Hirta, to Hushinish in Harris in August last year.
Leaving Hirta at around 4am on Monday, August 17th, the St Kilda Swim team landed on Hushinish slipway just after 3pm on Tuesday, August 18th – taking only 35 hours to finish a swim that had been postponed three times from May to July due to bad weather.
During the challenge, the team were joined by a large pod of dolphins, and swimmer John Dyer encountered a 25ft Minke whale.
Further funds were raised through the St Kilda Swim Song, penned and recorded by young songstress Rosie Sullivan, the proceeds of which were added to the charities' total.
Members of the swim team in Stornoway then had great pleasure in handing over donations of £5,772.14 to the Fishermen's Mission and £5,620.68 to the Leanne Fund.
On the mainland, St Kilda swimmer John Dyer was able to present £7,568.43 to Yorkhill Children's Charity, the fundraising body which aims to improve children's health by providing services and equipment for the Yorkhill NHS Trust Hospitals.
And John also visited the Aberlour Child Care Trust – the largest, solely Scottish, children's charity which provides help to over 6,000 of Scotland's most vulnerable children, young people and families – to present £2,543.77.