EVENING TIMES, Tuesday 15 December 2015
By Caroline Wilson

John McGurk might not live in Glasgow anymore but he’s proved he’s still a true Scotsman at heart. The 54-year-old ex-pat has challenged himself to run 500 miles between Germany and Glasgow in a kilt to raise cash for Scotland’s vulnerable children.

John and six other hardy souls are aiming to run non-stop from his home town of Osnabruck to Glasgow next June, on pausing for breath on the ferry crossing. The group are aiming to raise £30,000 for the charity Children 1st and will pass through Germany, Holland, Newcastle, Lockerbie, Kelso, Kinbuck, Edinburgh and finally Glasgow.

For the past 24 years John has raised nearly £750,000 for children’s charities across the world through his own charity association in Germany, Sportler 4 a children’s world. The association has around 230 members and each year organises a running event from Osnabruck to a world-wide destination. It has taken John all over the world – to Africa, New York, Warsaw, and Jerusalem, Brazil.

To get next year’s fundraising challenge off to a flying start, John met up with Orla Livingston, seven, and her sister Mara, four, from Erskine, who were dropping off more than 200 toys they collected for families the charity works with. John, who works in a papermill, said: “I may live in Germany but I’m still a true and proud Scotsman.

It has been in my heart all the time to do something in Scotland but the time wasn’t right to do it – I had to be able to raise money. The thing that really tipped it was I read that one in three children in Scotland live in poverty. I couldn’t get my head round that. I know these children have so much potential that is awaiting to unfold, they must be given the chance to do so. Health and safety means you’re not allowed to run round the ferry decks these days, otherwise we would have done it.” The ‘1 in 3 run’ will see each runner cover the equivalent of a marathon a day.

John said: “I chose Children 1st because they work with abused children and those whose lives are blighted by poverty. The work they do is all about helping children recover from trauma, or helping families who need support. That’s what needs addressed, and what I want to change.”

Alison Todd, chief executive of Children 1st, said: “John is a total inspiration and we’re grateful to him and his team for organising this epic event, which will help children and their families across Scotland. He’s never forgotten his roots and we hope the people of Glasgow and beyond will come out and run with John, and encourage the team across the line.” Children 1st is Scotland’s National children’s charity. It offers families practical advice and support and helps children affected by abuse, neglect, and other traumatic events.Last year more than 2,800 children in Scotland were identified as needing protection from abuse. There are more than 15,000 children in care in Scotland.

To support John’s venture or find out more visit www.justgiving.com/1in3run/. To make a £5 donation text WEAN55.
For more information about Children 1st go to http://www.children1st.org.uk/get-involved/

caroline.wilson@eveningtimes.co.uk