South Scotland

Fundraisers complete 42-hour Scottish ground-hopping race

The five men were welcomed when they reached Annan's stadium. Image copyright JMA Trust
Image caption The five men were welcomed when they reached Annan's stadium

Five friends who embarked on a charity challenge to visit 42 football grounds in 42 hours have completed the journey and tripled their fundraising goal.

The group set off on the drive on Thursday and stopped at every senior football club in Scotland.

They met a few celebrity supporters along the route including TV presenter Lorraine Kelly and former snooker world champion John Higgins.

The 42 In 42 challenge was organised to raise funds for the JMA Trust.

The charity was set up in memory of Celtic and Annan Athletic fan John Maurice Aitken, who died from lymphoma last year aged 32.

His brothers, Kevin and Ciaran, took part in the road trip along with friends and former Annan Athletic players Gordon Moffat, Joe Cranston and Gary McMenamin.

They set a fundraising target of £5,000 but after crossing the finish line ahead of time at Annan's Galabank stadium in Dumfries and Galloway on Friday night, they have seen donations total three times that amount.

Lorraine, snooker star and Gers 'keeper

Kevin, 32, said: "The support we've had has just been amazing and the people who turned up at various grounds really kept us going.

"We changed driver at every stop and it was a bit rocky in the car at times - especially through the night when we were tired and it was cold. We were visiting the grounds around Inverness and Aberdeen at that point and there was nobody around as it was the middle of the night.

"But then we got down to Dundee United on Friday where Lorraine Kelly met us at Tannadice. She knew all about the charity and she was brilliant - meeting her gave us a real boost.

"There were definitely some points along the way where it was quite emotional because I knew how much it would have meant to John. He loved football and the whole thing would have been right up his street."

The group were met by snooker star Higgins when they visited Celtic Park, while Rangers goalkeeper Cammy Bell handed over a donation of £1,000 to the charity when they stopped at Ibrox.

The team have raised almost £9,000 on their sponsorship website, with an extra £5,000 collected offline, with more funds to be added to the total through a half-time appearance at Annan's match against East Fife on Saturday as well as an auction of signed shirts donated by each club.

Mr Aitken's family launched the JMA Trust in his memory at the end of last year with the aim of echoing his attitude and focusing on the aspects of life that were close to his heart.

It will provide support to those in need in areas including health, education, employment, sport and will also help relieve financial hardship.

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