Sep 282017

Leona Glennie who has partial sight and hearing loss and Neil Skene who is blind get ready to take part in the Banchory Beast Race at Knockburn Loch. Picture by KEVIN EMSLIE

With thanks to Yvette Rayner, PR Account Manager, Frasermedia Ltd.

A blind fundraiser is about to conquer a challenging obstacle course as part of a year-long programme of endurance challenges.
Neil Skene, who is fundraising coordinator for North East Sensory Services (NESS) is taking on the Prime Four Banchory Beast Race this Saturday at Knockburn Loch, Banchory, as part of a group of 10 NESS supporters.

NESS, which has offices in Aberdeen, Elgin and Dundee, supports over 6500 people who have serious sight and or hearing loss.

The charity relies heavily upon fundraising, and Mr Skene organises a number events as well as taking on a number of challenges himself, along with colleagues and friends.

The fundraising co-ordinator, who is also Scotland’s only  blind comedian, is taking on eight different running challenges in 2017, raising money for the charity which provides advice and practical support to people with sensory impairment.

Having climbed Kilimanjaro in 2014, Mr Skene enjoys pushing himself and proving that, with the support of friends, nothing stops him from taking part in extreme challenges. He started the year early with the Lumphanan 10k detox race on 2nd January, and then took on the tough Run Garioch run on 26th March, followed in May by the 5k Dunecht Dash.

June saw Mr Skene, along with his running guide who is tethered to him by a piece of rope, join the 10k Fettermear race, before increasing training in time for the Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run in August.

Next for Mr Skene is the super obstacle race that is the Beast. An epic 10k race over tough Scottish terrain, the Prime Four Banchory Beast Race involves 25 mega obstacles, giant water slides, icy loch water, thick mud and swamp crossings. Mr Skene and his team took part in 2016, working together to guide Mr Skene and his colleague, Leona Glennie, who is deafblind. 

Not content with having taken part in Aberdeen’s first ever half marathon, Mr Skene is looking forward to beating his 2hrs 3mins time by tackling the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow on 1st October.

Mr Skene said:

“It has been a fantastic year, with a great number of friends and colleagues getting out and about to raise money for NESS. We rely on donations and sponsorship to help us provide social groups, activities and information for blind and deaf people in the north-east.

“The Great Aberdeen Run was a great event for NESS, with over 40 people taking part. We raised more than £12,000 to help blind and deaf people in the area, and all had a fantastic day. The Beast race is challenging in different ways – not least the freezing cold water and knee-high mud! But we work together as a team and have a good laugh along the way.”

NESS CEO, Graham Findlay, said:

“We are all so proud of Neil, Leona and the NESS team. Taking part in big runs or climbing obstacles takes courage when you cannot see or hear. The success of these challenges is reliant upon the incredible team of guide runners and supporters, who play a vital role in keeping blind and deaf participants safe.”

Neil Skene and the NESS team can be sponsored at

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