A SUCCESSFUL charity sea kayak challenge last month followed the first part of the route of Henry Bell’s Comet 1 steamship from Port Glasgow to Blackmill Bay, Luing.
Douglas Hardie and his daughter Ione travelled 73.5 miles on Friday and Saturday July 21 and 22, despite a strong wind and occasional rain.
They were raising money for a charity in Uganda called DEWODE — Dedicated Women in Development — which is chaired by Douglas’s wife Pauline.
Pauline said: “The idea developed from our research into Henry Bell. We have a cottage on Luing, and when we read that passengers disembarked at Blackmill Bay it seemed appropriate to honour his memory.
“We visited the various memorials in Helensburgh earlier this year and also obtained photos of the remains of the Comet's engine while visiting the Science Museum in London.
“Dougie and Ione had to rest for about three hours until it was light enough to do the open crossing of the turbulent Loch Fyne, but otherwise, it was non-stop.
“They had a particularly strong head wind around the Dorus Mor. Needless to say, they had the Comet in their minds at that point especially!
“The following day we had an additional fundraiser on Luing. We gave people the opportunity to have a go at kayaking or they could relax with a drink and African cookies.
“It proved to be very popular despite the strong wind. It was also another chance to hear about Henry Bell.
“We remain grateful to Henry Bell for his inspiration. We thoroughly enjoyed researching his life history and have a much greater appreciation of his achievement.”
The couple founded the charity in 2009. It supports a group of women who live in the Kabermaido District in North Uganda.
“It began as a women's agricultural group and we have subsequently built a Health Centre which we hope to develop further,” she said.
“We still have donations coming in following the kayak challenge, so we are not sure of the total raised for DEWODE yet. All fundraising goes directly to staff salaries, medical supplies and development.”