A GARELOCHHEAD teenager has raised more than £500 for the local branch of the RNLI by taking on a solo New Year’s Day swim.

Having joined the January 1 dip at Rhu Marina in recent years 16-year-old Eilidh McQueen decided to face up to the ice cold temperatures of the Gare Loch with pet dog Max last Friday after the main event was cancelled.

The Lomond School pupil bravely completed her personal challenge at Helensburgh Sailing Club, at which she is a member and assistant instructor, and she was delighted with the cash total collected through her fund-raising initiative.

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Eilidh told the Advertiser: “When I was very young I was very much a water baby. I was always at the pool with my gran or doing lessons or training.

“Most of my spare time is spent paddleboarding out in the Clyde or sailing all over the place... so the water has always been a big part of my life.

“I am so thankful for all that the RNLI do to keep our waters safe.

“This year has been so uncertain and unsafe and still the RNLI have not stopped doing what they do, if anything they have had a busier year, this year, than usual.”

Eilidh, who started sailing when she was just eight years old, has competed for Scotland and Great Britain, and has her heart set on joining the RNLI as soon as she is old enough.

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She added: “It was really annoying me that the RNLI were not going to get their usual boost of donations that they usually do at this time of the year.

“That’s why I decided to do the swim myself.

“I was definitely not expecting to get all the support and donations I did, but I was really hoping for it and I am so thankful to everyone who donated.

“It makes me really happy that I can still do my bit towards helping the RNLI whilst I’m still not able to join them.”

Howard Morrison, lifeboat operations manager at the RNLI’s Helensburgh station, said: “We are extremely grateful to Eilidh for raising a fantastic amount of money for the RNLI and we are delighted that she would like to join our volunteer crew when she is old enough. I encourage Eilidh to contact us when she is of age.”

Around £600 has been donated to the fund-raiser so far; to add your donation search for ‘Eilidh’s swim for the RNLI’ on justgiving.com.

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