West Lothian pensioner makes a splash by raising £7,000
An ex-military piper and formally of the 1st Royal Highland Fusiliers, John Thompson, who lives at Bield’s Craigengar Park in Livingston, successfully swam half a mile to raise funds for six local day centres in the West Lothian area.
Completing 32 lengths in 38 minutes, the swim has attracted the attention of other locals who have generously donated to the cause, ultimately raising a staggering total of £7,398.
John, who has lived in the West Lothian area for 45 years, has always been fit due to his military training. However in preparation of the swim, he trained for two months prior to the November event.
John said: “I used to be a good swimmer in my day but people were clearly worried when they heard about the swim.
“I found it funny that the manager of the Xcite swimming pool had three life guards on duty when I was the only one in the pool.
“I have received a lot of support from the local community, including my friends and neighbours at Bield and son who came along on the day to cheer me on.
“I am overwhelmed by the donations that have flooded in from friends, businesses and 23 local councillors.
“One man gave my wife a cheque in an envelope while she was at Almondell Country Park Visitors Centre and asked her to pass it on to me.
“We didn’t know how much the cheque had been written for and were very surprised when we opened it - my wife had been walking about with £1,000 in her purse all day.
“The money should go a long way in helping to support Alzheimer’s and dementia facilities in and around West Lothian.”
Funds will also be put aside to decorate walls in the centres. For sufferers of dementia, colour and contrast is important for their independence as it allows them to differentiate between specific features and facilities.
John added: “I began to raise money when I came out of the army. I had been kept busy 24/7 and when I came out I had all of this time on my hands.
“Initially I just want something to do and to keep busy, and it’s snowballed from there.
“For the past five years I have only raised money for West Lothian services. With all the cuts in council tax I wanted to help the services and charities that have lost a lot of their council funding.
“I choose charities that are important to me. I feel that those with dementia, Alzheimer’s or special needs are often left behind or forgotten and that’s an awful thing.
“In October, I’m participating in an abseiling fundraiser for centres in West Lothian who provide services for adults with special needs.
“Who knows, maybe next year I’ll even do a tandem parachute jump.”
Craigengar Park in Livingston provides housing and services for those aged 60 and over to live life their way while also retaining their independence.