A GLASGOW charity boss has taken on a mammoth fundraising challenge in a bid to bridge the coronavirus gap.

With public venues and churches closing their doors as Covid-19 reached the UK, the last 18 months resulted in community awareness and fundraising events grinding to a halt.

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) Scotland boss Heather Malloch and her team decided to take on the task themselves - raising almost 17,000 in the process.

Heather said: “We had people who were really missing their volunteering, the backbone of MAF in Scotland, and we had others desperate to help us in whatever way they could.

"So, as a team, we came up with a campaign to assist our volunteers and supporters as well as raise awareness of the work of MAF.”

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Their key objective was to ensure remote and vulnerable communities across low-middle income countries, where MAF flies, were not forgotten amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Heather also wanted to find creative ways to engage volunteers and supporters who would normally support MAF through events and fundraising activities, all of which were cancelled during lockdown leaving people feeling acutely isolated.

Since MAF’s formation in 1945, its support-raising arm in Scotland has relied on community events and a network of volunteers to raise awareness and essential funding.

Now thought to be the world’s largest humanitarian airline, MAF delivers aid, medical care, and emergency relief in more than 26 low-income countries, and has been helping fight coronavirus by flying vaccines, testing kits, PPE, and medical teams to some of the world’s most isolated locations across Africa and Asia-Pacific.

With all the special events planned in 2020 to celebrate the charity's 75th anniversary cancelled due to coronavirus, Heather and her team decided they would launch MAF Scotland’s 7&5 campaign by committing to walk 75 miles in one day. Heather hoped they would inspire others to fundraise - but never imagined that the campaign would gain such momentum.

Setting an initial target of £7,500 – in keeping with the ‘7&5’ theme – Heather admits her team were nervous.

She said: “With so many people facing physical, financial, and personal challenges, we didn’t expect such incredible support – but the people of Scotland rallied around us being generous with both their time and finances.

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"To see so many stepping forward to help was truly humbling and we certainly never expected to double our target. We were immensely blessed by the outcome, and it was just the beginning of the campaign which has continued to build.”

She added: “As a team, we’d never done a fundraising challenge before, but it was a really great team-building experience. It was the first time we are able to meet in person since the start of the pandemic, which made it extra memorable.

“It was such a brilliant way to celebrate 75 years of MAF’s amazing work."