Morningside man, 73, to cycle 3000 miles across USA to raise £100k for Scotland's heritage

George Russell is cycling coast to coast across USA in aid of National Trust for Scotland
George Russell, 73, is cycling across the USA to help the National Trust for Scotland.George Russell, 73, is cycling across the USA to help the National Trust for Scotland.
George Russell, 73, is cycling across the USA to help the National Trust for Scotland.

An inspirational Edinburgh septuagenarian is embarking on a mammoth 3200-mile cycle across the USA to raise funds for Scottish heritage.

George Russell, 73, who is originally from Morningside and now based in Colorado, plans to raise a whopping £100,000 in support of conservation charity, the National Trust for Scotland.

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He is matching the hefty fundraising total by undertaking an ambitious trip by bicycle from San Diego, California, to Saint Augustine in Florida.

The National Trust for Scotland has been badly hit by the impact of coronavirus this year and is running a major fundraising campaign – Save Our Scotland – to help it recover from this crisis.

George’s Forrest Gump-style coast to coast effort will take in eight states, including New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and is expected to take around 50 days, depending on weather conditions.

While George will be riding solo, his wife Mary will be driving their car as a support vehicle for the first half of this epic trip which begins on August 27.

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Mr Russell has a deep and personal connection to the National Trust for Scotland. His grandfather was the charity’s first Secretary and Treasurer, while his father worked for the Trust for many years and was a Council Member

Emeritus.

George, who has served on the Trust’s Council himself, said the closure of properties has starved the heritage organisation of around £28 million in income this year.

He said: “The Trust cares for a staggering portfolio of Scotland’s treasures, but it urgently needs colossal sums to guarantee its survival. It is as serious as that. It is vital that somehow as much as possible of its lost income is replaced as matter of urgency.

“That can only be done by the support of donors worldwide and that is why I am getting on my bike, to pedal to protect Scotland’s heritage.”

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With a month to go until he oils his gears for the transcontinental trip, George has managed to raise nearly £30,000 through his JustGiving and Fundly fundraising pages.

George and Mary say they have been avid cyclists since moving to Colorado 14 years ago. Mary will accompany George up until Austin or Houston, at which point he will be left to finish the 2nd part of the trip unsupported.

Ali Macleod, Head of Fundraising at the National Trust for Scotland, said: “We are overwhelmed at this incredible support from George. His dedication to our charity and all we do to protect what’s special about Scotland is so appreciated at this difficult time.

“As George travels across the USA, he’ll be thinking of Glencoe, the property and iconic Scottish location his grandfather helped the Trust secure in the 1930s, and knowing that every pedal stroke helps the Trust protect this and other special places, now and for the future.”

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For those who would like to put some power in George’s pedals to help the National Trust for Scotland at this vital time, you can donate here; https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/george-russellcycleacrossusafornts.

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