Ayrshire marine medic tackling gruelling 870 mile cycle for charity

A medic from Ayrshire is taking part in a tough 870-mile cycle to raise vital funds for a marine charity that helped whales stranded in the Clyde last year. 

Helene Gray is a volunteer medic with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue charity.  

The charity was the centre of national attention last year when it attempted to save a pod of whales stuck in the Firth of Clyde and Gare Loch. 

The whales in question were spotted off the mainland and in the waters around Cumbrae, as they struggled to reach open water. 

Helene, who volunteers with the Ayrshire team, says it is incidents like that which shows how vital the charity is. 

She said: “As a proud volunteer Marine Mammal Medic based with the Ayrshire and Clydeside team of the BDMLR, I know the importance of having all the necessary equipment available to help us carry out rescues. 

“We answer to call outs for stranded seals and cetaceans 365 days of the year, and although we are based in Ayrshire and Clydeside, we will assist other medic teams throughout the whole of the UK if needed. 

“We have assisted in many successful rescues and seal relays, and  last year we assisted with the pod of now famous Northern Bottlenose Whales which spent a number of weeks around Loch Goil, Loch Long and Gareloch.

“Our medics provided a daily overwatch assisting the local team every day for around ten weeks ready to carry out a rescue if required, and indeed we did have to attempt a rescue when ones the whales stranded in the Clyde.

“Although it was not the outcome we hoped for, all our trained medics where able to enter the water safely and attempt a rescue using our specialised whale pontoons.”

Helene says vital funding is required to help the charity continue the service up and down the country, and especially in Ayrshire. 

She explained: “Without the funding which is only available through donations, we wouldn’t have been able to do any of this.

“We need funds to train more medics, purchase equipment and a medic van to transport our equipment to rescues.

“Every penny or pound raised is gratefully received and goes a long way to helping us out.

“All the fundraising and promoting that we do is invaluable in helping us raise funds as well as raise our charity profile.”

Helene is riding the virtual 874 miles between Lands End and John O’Groats to raise vital funds from home. 

She said: “I aim to cover 10-20 miles each night to reach the end as quickly as possible. 

“This might not sound a lot but I work full time so I will be coming home from work and hopping straight on my exercise bike. 

“After numerous lockdowns it is a shock to the system to go from couch potato overnight to hopping on a bike and cycling 10 miles.”

You can support Helene on her JustGiving page here.

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