One trek of a plan - minister aiming high to raise money for charity

A fully robed minister walking two Alpacas on a leash is not a sight people see every day.

But that is what greeted bemused hill walkers as Rev Monika Redman announced plans to trek to Machu Picchu in Peru to raise money for charity.

Monika Redman
Rev Monika Redman

It is understood that the 48-year-old will be the first woman Kirk minister to trek to the legendary site in aid of a good cause.

Mrs Redman is fulfilling a childhood dream to raise more than £3,100 for Blythswood Care.

The charity runs a Christmas Shoebox Appeal to support vulnerable people across Europe, Africa and Asia.

The leader of St Leonard’s Church in Dunfermline will climb the 3,000 steps to the Temple of the Sun.

Mrs Redman, who is married with a seven-year-old son, announced her plans at BobCat Alpacas farm near Bonaly on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Armed with a Shepherds crook, backpack and hiking boots, the adventurer mingled with the 20-strong herd, which are farmed for their fleeces and used for animal tourism.

Mrs Redman, who took 18-month old Apollo and Balthazar for a stroll in the Pentland Hills, joked that she was considering taking a pair of Alpacas home with her because they would make “ideal lawnmowers” for the manse garden.

"Meeting the Alpacas and taking them for a walk was a lot of fun and helped build anticipation for the trek," she said.

“The congregation at St Leonard’s Parish Church have been involved in the annual shoebox appeal, which involves sending practical items like toiletries, clothing and other gifts to disadvantaged adults and children at Christmas, for many years.

”They are shipped out to lighten the winter for people who have very little and live in desperate parts of Europe.

“It is a privilege is raise money to support this important work.”

The 10-day trip in October, which involves five days of trekking and sleeping under canvas, is being organised by Blythswood Care, which is based in Evanton in the Highlands.

Built in the 1450s during the reign of Inca emperor Pachucuti, Machu Picchu is thought to have been either a country estate for the emperor, or an important place of worship.

Rev Monika Redman
Balthazar, Rev Monika Redman and Apollo stop and have a wee rest during their walk in the Pentland Hills.

Mrs Redman said: “When I was a child I used to read adventure stories and I remember one about children who discovered a long lost city deep in the mountains, which was still inhabited.

“I used to pretend I was an archaeologist and I would find such a city so in a way this promises to be a dream come true.

"I am excited and a bit nervous about the trek because I am not a fan of walking up hills.

"It is going to be hard graft and entail sore legs, blisters and sogginess as it could rain every day".

Mrs Redman, who grew up in Lincoln and worked as minister in Wellington, New Zealand prior to taking up her current post, said she would be carrying a day sack and a mule will carry her luggage."

“Maybe this trek is an excuse to indulge a whim but at least it is an excuse that is going to do other people some good,” she added.

Rev Monika Redman had a wooly good time hanging out with the boys and girls.

Mrs Redman said she would be raising money through donations, sponsored walks and cycling and selling bric-a-brac at church coffee mornings.

She is trying to walk 10 miles every day to get fit.

Margaret Tooth, a fundraising manager with Blythswood Care, said: “The charity may be best known for its annual Shoe Box Appeal but is committed to supporting Christian partners in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia all year round, funding humanitarian aid and social care projects and bringing hope to thousands."

Bob Crosbie, owner of BobCat Alpacas, said the animals originated in Peru where there is a population of around three million.

It is customary not to cut their hair because the animals recognise each other by their unique hairstyles.

Mr Crosbie said: “Alpacas have a very gentle temperament and they seem to sense that the smaller the person is, the gentler they have to be.

“They are very calm and very calming so we use them as therapy animals.

“We occasionally take them to meet patients at a Marie Curie Hospice and later this year we will be going to St Andrews, Edinburgh and Heriot Watt universities to assist students preparing to sit exams.”

There are places left on the trek.