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College friends with north farming links take on 1200-mile LEJoG for 'excellent causes'

By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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Jimmy and Alan at Murrayfield with Oor Doddie.
Jimmy and Alan at Murrayfield with Oor Doddie.

Old college friends from the 1970s, Jimmy Beattie and Alan McLean, are taking on the 1200-mile journey from Land's End to John O'Groats' (LEJoG) in aid of some "excellent charities".

Regular cyclist Jimmy was an Invergordon farm manager, and had lived in Northumberland since the '80s. Alan, who does not have so much cycling experience, was a farm manager in Easter Ross until his retirement in 2021.

Explaining how the idea came about, Alan said: "It all started when Jimmy said that this route was one he had wanted to ride for a long time, but hadn't found anyone who would do it with him!

"I'm not sure whether it was the French sunshine, the thrill of being at the Rugby World Cup or the promise of a glass of red wine later that day, but I agreed to do it with him! This was despite the fact that Jimmy is an accomplished and regular cyclist, whereas I had just recently upgraded from my balance bike!"

Alan continued: "Jimmy and I are friends since back in the '70s, at the North of Scotland College of Agriculture in Aberdeen – so we're no spring chickens! We survived that and, until our fairly recent retirements, have both enjoyed a lifetime of involvement in agriculture.

"The plan is to benefit a couple of deserving charities – motor neuron charity My Name'5 Doddie immediately came to mind, as we had helped to raise funds for them previously through Ross Sutherland Rugby Club. The Alzheimers Society also sprang to mind as an excellent charity to support, as this is another horrible disease that is heard about far too often and affects many families."

Alan McLean will be remembered by many as an active former president of Ross Sutherland Rugby Club.
Alan McLean will be remembered by many as an active former president of Ross Sutherland Rugby Club.

Discussing how the duo plan to take on the mammoth trip, Alan said: "We plan to start the LEJoG trip around June 6 this year. The distance between Land's End and John O' Groats is about 600 miles as the crow flies, but when using safer bike paths and trying to avoid heavy traffic and busy roads, the mileage may rise to about 1200 miles and the aim is to cycle around 50 to 60 miles a day.

"The plan is to source a mobile home to live out of on our road north – so if anyone knows of one that we could beg, borrow, buy or steal please get in touch asap! We hope that our wives, Mary and Liz, will drive the service vehicle and keep us fed, watered and out of the pubs as we meander north!"

To donate to Alan and Jimmy's fundraiser, visit their JustGiving page here.

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