A YOUNG swimmer from Garelochhead has raised hundreds for a lifesaving charity after completing a now annual water-based challenge.

Eilidh McQueen, 17, took a dip in the Gare Loch to welcome in the new year and gather funds for Helensburgh’s RNLI branch.

“Horrific weather” forced the teen to postpone her January 1 dunk for 24 hours, but she was keen not to let the wintry conditions halt her fund-raising efforts, having raised more than £1,000 for the same organisation with a solo swim last year.

“I made the decision to postpone the swim till Sunday as I thought it might be quite contradictory if the RNLI was called out due to me trying to raise money for them,” Eilidh told the Advertiser.

“When the weather was better and the waves had died down, I carried out the swim in Garelochhead to make sure that it was a little more sheltered.

“The water was much warmer than I expected but I’m pretty sure that anyone else would say differently.

“Doing watersports all the time has got me used to the typical Scottish winter water temperature.”

READ MORE: Garelochhead girl's solo New Year's Day swim raises RNLI funds

Eilidh first took the plunge at Rhu Marina in 2014 during the traditional Ne’erday dook, which has been cancelled throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

And despite finding a fun way to contribute to a good cause on an individual basis, she is looking forward to a return to familiar fund-raising events.

She said: “I must say that I still miss the feeling of jumping in with people all around me and getting out with a crowd of people cheering and a hot chocolate waiting on me, but it bugs me more that the RNLI are not getting the donations that they used to raise.

“I am really hoping to raise the same amount that I did last year but I understand that times are hard and a lot of people who may have been able to donate in the past are not able to any more.

“I am so grateful for the funds I have raised already and any more boosts to the donations would be incredible.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to the people who have donated as it means so much to me. The crew have worked so hard this year with some really tricky and horrible call-outs that they have had to deal with and I really hope that I can put a smile on their faces.”

More than £500 has been donated so far; to add a donation visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/eilidh-mcqueen-rnli.

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