Dogged determination will see me through in the Arctic

We've got this licked: Julie Finlayson gets some encouragement from her husky dog Haze. Picture: Dan Phillips
We've got this licked: Julie Finlayson gets some encouragement from her husky dog Haze. Picture: Dan Phillips
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WITH temperatures dropping to -5C lately, it has been more than a little bit chilly.

But that’s nothing on what dog groomer Julie Finlayson will have to contend with as she prepares to traverse the Arctic Circle on a 250- mile-long husky trail.

Julie, 22, from Penicuik, is taking on the challenge in memory of her grandmother Eleanor, who died of motor neurone disease. Money raised will go towards the charity MND Scotland.

“It’s the first time I have ever done anything like this, but I am quite looking forward to it,” said Julie.

“Because I work with dogs, I’m really looking forward to looking after the huskies. It’s going to be freezing – I’m just not sure how freezing!”

Julie, who works at Top Dog in Bonnyrigg, will be among a group of eight who will journey from Norway to Sweden on the six-day trail in April next year.

The wilderness challenge will see participants put up their own tents and cook for themselves. “Everyone who takes part gets their own team of dogs and you look after them – every night you feed them and bed them down for the night,” said Julie

Eleanor, also from Penicuik, died in August last year at the age of 79.

Motor neurone disease leads to weakness and wasting of muscles, causing increasing loss of mobility in the limbs, and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing.

In most cases, it appears for no apparent reason in people with no family history of the disease, although in about five to ten per cent of cases the cause is genetic.

“We went for the best part of a year not knowing what was going on, going back and forth to the doctors, because my gran was losing her balance and just generally wasn’t herself,” said Julie

“Because with MND it’s quite common that muscles in the throat deteriorate, she began to find speech difficult. She was admitted to the Western General to have a tube put in to her stomach to feed her, and she was meant to be in and out, but there were complications and she never got out of hospital. We knew she wasn’t going to recover from the MND, but it was a huge shock.”

Julie said she did not know anything about the disease before it affected her grandmother and hopes the challenge will go some way to raising awareness of the condition.

The Finlaysons have also organised a fundraising quiz at Penicuik Town Hall next month, for which tickets have already flown out the door.

The event will be hosted by Forth One presenter Boogie.

To donate a raffle prize to the event, contact Suzanne Finlayson on 07817 978-620.

MND Scotland fundraiser Sara Thomas said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Julie’s decided to raise funds to fight MND by taking part in the Husky Trail.

“The money that she raises will go towards helping all those in Scotland who are affected by this cruel disease.”

To donate to Eleanor’s cause, visit