THEY are fundraising royalty so it is apt that a Sutherland couple are being given the accolade of meeting Prince Charles.
Jim (66) and Gill Robertson (46) have been invited to attend a 70th birthday bash at Buckingham Palace later this year in honour of His Royal Highness.
The couple, of Birichen, outside Dornoch, will be representing breast cancer charity Walk the Walk, of which the Prince is patron.
During the last decade the Robertsons have power-walked thousands of miles both in the UK and overseas and raised more than £32,000 in aid of Walk the Walk,
Jim is a chartered accountant who has just sold his business AW Gray and Butler in Tain, but still works there. While Gill runs Broomfields Glamp and Drive, a small glamping and VW hire business
They average around eight marathon challenges a year and also hold two massive fundraising events – a barbecue at their home and a ceilidh at Rogart Hall – annually.
Every penny they raise goes to charity and they meet the costs of taking part in challenges themselves.
Jim said: "Our involvement with Walk the Walk has given us both a focus and a passion that has changed our lives."
It all started in 2007 when Gill undertook the 26.2 mile nightime Edinburgh MoonWalk.
She said: "I was going through quite a tough time and did it to cheer myself up. It was the second MoonWalk ever and I enjoyed it so much that I promised myself I would do it every year I was able."
The couple got together in 2009 and the following year Jim – wearing a kilt and T-shirt imprinted with a pink bra – accompanied Gill on the MoonWalk.
"After that we decided to do a few more events and it just went on from there," said Gill. "Once you get into it, it is a real family and we have met some lovely people."
The Robertsons have graduated from taking part in standard marathons such as the London, New York and Loch Ness runs to even more gruelling, high endurance events.
In 2014 they completed the Three Land Challenge – three MoonWalks in five weeks in England, Scotland and Iceland – and also tested their mettle on the 62-mile Thames Path challenge.
One of their biggest feats so far has been Walk the Walk’s 2016 Arctic Challenge – a two day back country skiing marathon through the Arctic wilderness.
And they have also undertaken the Over the Moon Challenge, walking the Edinburgh MoonWalk circuit twice in a 14 hour time limit.
In November they are facing a new test, 11 days trekking at Everest Base Camp.
Gill said: "We did the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu last year which took us into altitude and whetted our appetite for Everest Base Camp. Walk the Walk are not organising the Everest trek but we are still undertaking it on the charity’s behalf."
Such arduous physical tests require a high level of fitness and the Robertsons follow a tough exercise regime, rising at 5am on weekdays to strap on a head torch and power walk up to eight miles before beginning work. At week-ends they walk up to 20 miles and they also swim, cycle and cross-train.
A constant companion has been their dog Jess, although she is now semi-retired, having reached the age of 13.
It is no wonder then that, when Walk the Walk were invited to send five representatives to Prince Charles’s birthday celebration on May 22, officials immediately thought of Jim and Gill.
The couple have represented the charity in the past, attending the opening of a Maggie’s Centre near Larbert and visiting the Scottish Parliament as well as meeting MSPs in Inverness.
Jim said: "We are so excited as this is a once in a lifetime event.
"We will both need to get new outfits which don’t involve compression tights, thermals, boots or trainers!
"The palace is on a Tuesday and we have an ultra marathon on the Saturday so hopefully our shoes will fit!"
Walk the Walk’s founder and chief executive Nina Barough told the Northern Times: "I cannot thank Gill and Jim enough for all they have done for Walk the Walk.
"They have completed many of our challenges at home and all over the world and raised an enormous amount of money and awareness for breast cancer. We love these two, if only we could bottle their enthusiasm and energy; it is totally infectious, and Walk the Walk simply could not achieve all we do without amazing supporters like Gill and Jim."
To sign up for The MoonWalk Scotland on Saturday 9th June, go to www.walkthewalk.org