THE “eye-opening” experience of volunteering for Childline inspired an East Lothian woman to run the Edinburgh Marathon to raise funds for the NSPCC-run service.
Despite missing six weeks of training due to injury, psychology graduate Iona Muir vowed to do whatever it took to cross the finish line on Sunday – even if she had to crawl.
This week she was able to rest up and celebrate after more than doubling her initial fundraising target of £500, with pledges standing at £1065.
The 22-year-old former Mary Erskine pupil, known as Noni to her friends, gave much of her free time in the final stint of her degree year at Aberdeen University to volunteer for Childline, which has one of its two Scottish bases in the city.
Iona, from Tranent, said she felt compelled to do something big to say thank you for the unforgettable experience.
“It has been such a big thing and I’m so grateful to have been able to do it for the experiences and the people I’ve met. It’s hard to explain but Childline has really opened my eyes about what young people are going through,” she said.
“I thought I’d be able to relate quite well to things as it wasn’t long since I’d left school, but so much has changed, even just with technology. I was so amazed by the other counsellors and how in their spare time they were doing this training and caring and spending time for children.”
Childline, which last year celebrated its 30th anniversary, provides free, private and confidential advice over the phone and online to children on a range of issues including family problems, bullying, stress and self-harm. In 2015/16 a total of 13,687 counselling sessions were carried out with children contacting the service from Scotland.
Iona started training as a counsellor in late 2015 after being made aware of the Aberdeen Childline base by a fellow student.
The experience of volunteering there has made a lasting impression on her and she said running a marathon in the city where she spent so much of her youth was the least she could do.
Spurred on by the growing list of donations on her JustGiving page, she managed to overcome the setback of a hip injury during her early preparations for the race and, with the help of physio and exercises, was able to resume training.
“Volunteering for Childline is something I’d recommend and it’s really eye opening. It’s hard to say you ‘enjoy’ Childline, because there are some sad and difficult times but I really did enjoy it. It’s rewarding and I’m really glad I did it,” she added.