For years, Dean Holmes from Carloway has wanted to cycle the Hebridean way, but he was on the waiting list for a knee replacement and so cycling any more than a few hundred yards was impossible.
Ken and Nigel are regular visitors to the islands and there has been long standing "joke not joke" that when Dean is able to, they should go for it.
Then finally in August 2022, Dean got the call and finally got his new knee. Recovery was slow but so grateful for getting back on his feet, and when finally Dean got the all clear to jump back on his bike, the long running Hebridean way joke actually seemed possible.
.....Only why just do the Hebridean way in one direction? and how would they get back home to Lewis from Barra.....It seemed perfectly obvious, they should cycle there and back. So the Butt to Barra and Back challenge was set. 304 miles from the Butt of Lewis lighthouse, down to Vatersay and Barra and back up to Lewis finishing in Stornoway at the Neuro Heb HQ at Third Sector Hebrides.
Dean has long been a supporter of charities working to support and improve the lives of people with Neurological conditions. Deans mum had MS, and back then, the care, support and treatment available was very limited. Had a charity such as Neuro Hebrides been around to support Deans mum, then we know how much it would have meant to her. So having supported the charity for a while, Neuro Hebrides was who they wanted to raise funds for.
The challenge was planned, and training began.... Butt to Barra and Back, what an adventure! They couldn't do it alone, they needed a support driver, so Helen - Nigel's wife - steps in and would drive along side them providing, tea, coffee, snacks and moral support.
On Friday 18th August 2023, Ken, Nigel and Dean set off from the Butt of Lewis, unfortunately in grueling headwinds. But they did it, finally arriving at their first nights accommodation at 10:45 that night. Their first 80 Miles were complete.
The Next 4 days cycling through Harris, Berneray, North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist was grueling, with the wind gaining even more mometum, reaching up to 50mph all the way down to Eriskay.
Unfortunately on reaching Eriskay, the ferries over to Barra were either cancelled or on high alert So the decision was made to miss out Barra and Vatersay for safely reasons, but the team could make up the miles to make sure the challenge distance was met.
Despite the conditions, the cause and reason they took on the challenge is what was driving them on and never give up.
Finally on Monday 21st August, the team turned round and they began cycling back up to Stornoway. It was a relief what the wind was now behind the team.
They stopped at some beautiful places on route, with special thanks to Moorcroft holidays Horgabost campsite and kilbride campsite and everyone who stopped to say hi and show support.
On Wednesday 23rd August at 5pm The team reached Stornoway and were met by many of the Neuro Hebrides Trustees, coordinating group and members, who wanted to be there in Person to see them back.
An amazing bagpiper called Ashley played the bagpipes er welcome them back.
It was truly a magical moment and Ken, Dean and Nigel were so incredibly touched and humbled by it. It really was something that will never be forgotten. And that positivity, welcome and generosity of everyone from Neuro Hebrides is what makes this charity so amazing, truly special and inspiring.
Thank you to everyone who has supported the team.
By the 24th August, the amount of donations to Neuro Hebrides, had surpassed £2100, which is astonishing and it will go a long way to supporting people with Neurological conditions in the Outer Hebrides.