Scottish rugby star Stuart Hogg has helped launch the Walk for Syria, an 18-mile sponsored walk this summer in aid of the Halo Trust landmine clearance charity.
The Borders-born 25-year-old, set to earn his 58th international cap against England in this year’s Six Nations tournament on Saturday, joined forces with former Halo field officer Camilla Thurlow to promote the charity event, taking place on Saturday, June 23.
War-torn Syria is littered with explosive debris after seven years of fighting, and the United Nations estimates that more than eight million people are in danger from unexploded shells and cluster bombs.
The Halo Trust, based at Thornhill in Dunfries and Galloway, is beginning to clear the Middle East nation of explosives, but it’s an enormous task and will take years of work.
The aim of the Walk for Syria is to expand its risk education programme in Syria so it can reach tens of thousands of the families deemed to be in most danger.
The charity’s programme educates people about the risks of war debris and how to stay as safe as possible among it.
The sessions explain the dangers of explosives, how to identify them and how to act safely around them.
June’s walk will see participants complete a circular route in the Lowther Hills, starting at the charity’s Thornhill base.
Hogg, brought up in Hawick but now living in Glasgow, said: “I wanted to get involved to support the Halo Trust partly because I am a Borders boy and I think it’s great that Scotland’s largest international charity is based near the Borders.
“It is easy to look at terrible things happening far away and think there is nothing you can do, but there is something you can do – you can put on your walking boots and raise some sponsorship money and join me on the Walk for Syria.”
Camilla, a contestant on the ITV2 dating show Love Island last year, added: “I worked for the Halo Trust, and I know the enormous difference it makes to countries in conflict.
“It makes people safer, it removes landmines and it destroys unexploded bombs and shells.
“It helps countries get back on their feet and people back in their homes.
“There aren’t many places where that work is needed more desperately and urgently than Syria.”
To take part, register at www.walkforsyria.org