THEY braved the Pentland Hills in the chilly spring weather, battling their tired legs and aching feet.
But Catherine Loftus and her five-year-old son Thomas didn’t embark on their fundraising challenge alone, they were accompanied by 21 local children and their parents ... and seven furry Peruvian alpacas.
The group participated in the sponsored trek in aid of the Sick Kids Friends Foundation – a charity close to Catherine’s heart – and have managed to raise £1000 so far.
Thomas was taken to the Sick Kids Hospital when he was just four with appendicitis and Catherine, 36, wanted to thank SKFF for providing the support and facilities to enable them to have a comfortable stay.
The mum, from Kirkliston, wanted to give something back and decided to organise the sponsored trek with the furry animals.
She said: “When we arrived at the Sick Kids on referral from our GP, we were quickly assessed and SKFF provided DVDs for Thomas to watch to distract and calm him while he got his blood tests.
“When we were in the waiting room, it was filled with toys and books and he was able to read a story to help him fall asleep.
“After the surgery was complete, the nurses had taken the time to find out his interests in order to personalise a certificate full of stickers for him, which made him feel very special.”
The herd of alpacas, which trotted a long happily on the trek last Saturday, came from local farm BobCat Alpacas.
They are owned by Bob Crosbie, who cares and breeds for the herd – which resemble llamas but are considerably smaller.
Catherine said: “SKFF was amazing, not just with Thomas, but also in what they did for me. Having left the house in a rush to take Thomas to hospital, I had not packed an overnight bag but I was provided with toiletries, a shower, and a fold down bed so I could stay with him.
“And when I was stressed that Thomas would not take his medication, I was welcomed into the Drop-In Centre where I was given friendly advice, a cup of coffee and even a massage.
“I appreciated these little touches so much as they made my stay much more comfortable.
“Going home, Thomas said it had been like going on holiday.”
Susan Diamond, community fundraising manager at SKFF, said: “We’re so grateful that they have selected us as their chosen cause.
“We strive to continually support children and their families through enhanced facilities and state of the art equipment to ensure they have a positive hospital experience,” she said.
“It is fundraisers like Catherine who allow us to continue to do this.”
The News told last week how SKFF had enjoyed its most successful year yet.
More than £1.8 million was donated in 2016 – smashing its previous record, set a year earlier, of £95,723.
SKFF also dished out £3.2m in grants - the highest amount it’s ever spent over 12 months.
Donations can be made here: https://teamskff.everydayhero.com/uk/alpaca-walk- team