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Gran, 80, cycles 134 miles across Scotland for charity

Ellison Hudson took on the John Muir Way for Scottish-based charity Mary’s Meals.

Chris Watt Photography
Chris Watt Photography

A brave Dundee grandmother has cycled an incredible 134 miles across Scotland to mark her 80th birthday.

Former midwife Ellison Hudson says she was "proud" to take on the challenge as a way to raise funds for Scottish-based charity Mary's Meals.

The feisty grandmother of ten, who says she felt a great new lease of life after her birthday party, put her extra spurt of adventurous spirit down to spending such a lovely time with her family.

"I just felt so amazing after I turned 80," she says. "I just had such a lovely day with my family around me.

"It can be hard to get everybody in one place at the same time now that everybody is grown up, so it was very special."

Ellison, a keen cyclist, set out on her mission to cover Scotland from coast to coast, supported by her granddaughter Allie MacLean and close friend Lin Brisley.

Ellison, 80, took on the John Muir Way.
Ellison, 80, took on the John Muir Way. Chris Watt Photography

They decided upon the John Muir Way and set off together on May 18 from Helensburgh.

Six days of cycling later and they made it to Dunbar in East Lothian for a celebratory finish.

Ellison did confess to having a little electric motor on her bike to help her up the hills, but her achievement is no less highly impressive.

The avid cyclist is also keen to inspire others her age to get out cycling as well.

"It saddens me that I can't seem to find anyone my age in my area to join me," she says.

According to research published earlier this year in the journal Aging Cell, some long distance cyclists in their 80s have the immune systems of 20-year-olds, so Ellison has found herself an incredibly healthy hobby.

Ellison, granddaughter Allie MacLean and close friend Lin Brisley.
Ellison, granddaughter Allie MacLean and close friend Lin Brisley. Chris Watt Photography

She is hopeful that, more than just healthy inspiration, her efforts have raised support for her chosen charity.

Members of her local church have helped to donate money to her mission and Ellison hopes that she will have raised a strong amount.

"I love the simple idea behind Mary's Meals - giving children a good meal at school," says Ellison.

"I have seen a Mary's Meals kitchen in action and have seen the faces of the little children being given this food.

"Having previously lived in India, I've seen first-hand the poverty that exists and I think it's wonderful what Mary's Meals is doing around the world."

Mary's Meals is currently providing daily school meals to 1,257,278 children in 15 countries, including Malawi, India, Kenya, Lebanon, South Sudan, Haiti, Syria and Ethiopia.

Ellison is raising funds for Mary's Meals.
Ellison is raising funds for Mary's Meals. Chris Watt Photography

It costs just £13.90 to feed a child for an entire school year through its school feeding programmes.

Research shows that in schools where Mary's Meals are provided, there is a rise in rates of enrolment, attendance and academic performance.

Commenting on Ellison's efforts, Mary's Meals fundraising officer, Morven Macgillivray, said: "What an incredible achievement, thank you Ellison!

"This is another example how amazing Mary's Meals supporters are helping to transform the lives of hungry children.

"We are extremely grateful to Ellison, it is the kindness of our amazing supporters who make this wonderful work possible."

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