A group of keen cyclists from bp will lace up their dancing shoes this weekend to help raise funds for laptops for Ukrainian children and support local charities in the North-east.

The bp Coast 2 Coast ceilidh will take place at the University of Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Hall on Saturday, March 25 at 7.30pm and all proceeds will be split between four charities.

The ceilidh is organised by the bp Coast 2 Coast cycling team, a group of 70 past and present bp North Sea employees who will take on the challenge of riding more than 250 miles across Scotland from Gairloch to Aberdeen over three days in May.

The cash raised at the charity ceilidh will go to Ythan Valley Rotary/Rotary Club Kharkiv International in Ukraine, as well as Northsound Cash for Kids, ACIS Youth and The Archie Foundation Baird Family Hospital Appeal.

Ythan Valley Rotary Club twinned with Rotary Club Kharkiv International after its president Erik Avetisov moved from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv to Methlick with his family and started attending meetings at the Aberdeenshire club.

Gary Macalister, Ythan Valley Rotary member explained: “When the war started in Ukraine a year ago, we decided to do something to help. We refurbished and cleaned a vacant house and a family from Mariupol moved in last June.

“Within a few weeks Erik and his family also came to the area, and he told us what his rotary club in Kharkiv was doing to support people living in the city. We started fundraising for laptops and heaters initially and managed to raise funds for laptops for schoolchildren to allow them to continue their studies and over 300 wood burning stoves to keep people warm and allow them to cook. We also provided bikes for transport and clothing for Ukrainian families who needed them.”

Gary said the Coast 2 Coast ceilidh and cycle are important events for us because the funds raised will help support Kharkiv Rotary International’s ongoing appeal for 12,000 laptops for school children in Ukraine.

“So far, we’ve helped provide 166 laptops, but we are just scratching the surface. The goal is to raise sufficient, between us and other Rotary clubs, to make sure all children identified have laptops to access schoolwork at home whilst its unsafe to attend in person. It’s vital children have what they need, so they don’t fall behind with their studies.”

Now in its 14th year, the bp Coast 2 Coast bike ride has raised more than £2 million for 35 local charities by cycling across Scotland since 2008.

This year, the group anticipates raising £120,000 which will be shared between the four charities.

Jon Turnbull, a retired drilling engineer and one of the original organisers of the bp event, who has cycled every year since it started, said: “Two things I never envisaged are that it would raise so much money, and everyone would enjoy it so much that it would gain its own momentum. We thought we would raise a few thousand pounds and it came to over £80,000 in the first year.

“We’ve always focused on charities that mean something to our cyclists. For the first year we supported MND Scotland and The Multiple Sclerosis Society because I had two friends affected by these diseases and it meant a lot to me. Since then, cyclists have been asked which charities they’d like to support.”

He continued: “It’s not just the charities that benefit, I have friends who owe their retirement hobbies and fitness to Coast 2 Coast. They started cycling to take part and they loved it so much; they’ve continued cycling ever since. It’s great to see so many people start or restart cycling because of Coast 2 Coast.”

The challenge is open to cyclists of all abilities with individuals covering their own accommodation and food costs.

Each cyclist has a fundraising target of £1,000 with participants able to nominate a charity to benefit from the amount raised. All money raised by bp employees is matched by the bp Foundation – doubling the value of any contributions.

Tickets for the Coast 2 Coast Ceilidh are £30 and can be purchased here. Ceilidh band Ceilidh Fusion will be performing and the ticket price includes stovies and a donation to Coast 2 Coast. There will also be the opportunity to take part in a raffle and other fundraising games on the night.

To sponsor cyclists taking part in the Coast 2 Coast challenge from May 25-28, please click below:

ACIS Youth Counselling: https://www.justgiving.com/team/C2CACISYouth

Cash4Kids: https://www.justgiving.com/team/Cash4KidsC2C

Archies Baird Hospital Appeal: https://www.justgiving.com/team/C2CBairdHospital

Ythan Valley Rotary/Kharkiv International Rotary supported by Aberdeen Deeside Rotary https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ythanvalley?utm_term=ZryJpjRW3

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