TOP sports stars who all have a strong connection to the Stirling area are throwing their backing behind a big-hearted trio of local veterans who are about to undertake a gruelling 1,000-mile cycle marathon across the length of France.
Rugby union professional Finn Russell and former basketball pro and SKY television presenter Kieron Achara are supporting the intrepid bikers as they raise cash for worthy charities.
Finn said: “It’s great to see Norrie, Bobby and Brian, local Stirling people who have brought so much to the sporting world themselves, undertaking this challenge. I am delighted to support them and hopefully I’ll be in France when they are on their epic journey”.
Finn, Kieron and other supporters will be cheering on former basketball stars Norrie Bairner, 71, Bobby Morton, 69, and Brian Williamson, 67, as they pedal from Calais to Cannes in just 10 days.
On Saturday 23rd September they are leaving from the Kings Knot Parking Area, below Stirling Castle, at 10am to start their trip. They will be setting off in a motorhome to drive to Folkstone and stay overnight before traveling via the channel tunnel first thing then cycle Sunday morning. They have successfully managed to raise £10,000 already.
The handlebar heroes, who all attended the High School of Stirling, have no experience of long-distance cycling, although they are keen sports enthusiasts and were instrumental in Stirling Basketball Club winning the Scottish National League Division 1 in 1980, a team that consisted of purely local players.
Former High School pupil Kieron Achara said: “I know the benefit of sport and movement for both your physical and mental health and it is great to see Norrie, Bobby and Brian tackling this great challenge especially because of their history in a sport I love, basketball.
“It’s great to see what they are doing and I will be supporting and watching their progress with great interest.”
Bobby, like Norrie a former PE teacher, said: “Having the endorsement of these local – and also global – heroes is a phenomenal boost for us and will be a great encouragement as we are putting in the miles in France.
“What we are doing is nothing by comparison to what Finn and Kieron have achieved in their lives – sportspeople in Stirling have a lot to be proud of. They are an inspiration, to say the least.”
Brian, an entrepreneur who has backed many local businesses and start-ups, said: “We hope that the fact that we are taking on this challenge at our age will show that the years do not have to be limiting, and that it is never too late to take up a new sport.
“We also intend to be as fluent in French as it is possible to be in six months of learning by the time we set off on the cycle trip in September, to illustrate that lifelong learning is also something that people of our advanced years can still embrace.”
The cyclists will raise money for the Strathcarron Hospice, Kidney Kids Scotland, Pancreatic Cancer, Diabetes Scotland, and The Melanoma Society and a Givewheel page for people who may wish to donate has been set up here.
Norrie said: “All of our lives have been touched in different ways by life changing diseases like cancer and we want to make our own small contribution to supporting some of the charities which put so much effort and compassion into supporting others.”
The trio will be accompanied by a support vehicle driven by another former High School basketball player, Campbell Ferrier.