Our stalwart cyclists and climbers of Goatfell enjoyed sunny weather on Saturday 17 September at the Big Arran Challenge.

I was stationed at the ferry slip at Lochranza at one of our four water stations around the island. It was beautiful, watching the ferry and waiting for cyclists to give them refreshments. All the cyclists had completed 44 miles of their route of the island by the time they reached Lochranza.

Back at Ormidale Sports Pavilion, commandeered by Glasgow City Mission as base of operations for the day, volunteers like Charlotte Weir prepared hot soup and toasties. Charlotte lives on the island and has been an integral part of the Big Arran Challenge since its inception in 2013. She and other volunteers help to feed weary walkers and hungry cyclists every year. Charlotte has been a volunteer with Glasgow City Mission, serving every Friday in Urban in our City Centre Project. She made the trip every week to Glasgow from her home in Arran. Volunteers like Charlotte are essential to the Mission, without them, we could not run all our activities.

Billy Mitchell, who had the original idea for the Big Arran Challenge shared, “God really went before staff and volunteers on that first challenge day in 2013. God has continued to go before us each year as the event has been repeated and developed. In all the years, there has only been one injury, and that person came back in 2022 to take part in the challenge again!”

I caught up with CJ and Lynn from Aberdeen, over some soup.

CJ and Lynn had come with their friends, who know each other from primary school. Each year they pick a different sporting challenge to complete. They said, “Everyone here is really lovely, all the volunteers are so lovely. On our way round the island we watched the dolphins, we stopped a few times for a coffee and a chat. This event is so friendly and enjoyable. It has been well organised. The hills were… the hills! We are going to go outside when our friends are nearly here to cheer them into the car park.”

Everyone at the Mission who helps on the day or takes part in the challenge knows that this challenge is a feat for people to complete, walking up Goatfell, cycling around the island or both. However, we also know people love getting out there and helping others, especially the most vulnerable like those affected by poverty and homelessness in Glasgow.

If you would like to get involved, there is still time to donate here.

Look out for the Big Arran Challenge again next year, maybe you could be watching dolphins yourself as you cycle around Arran!