Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant supports four adventurers

In 2017, four people will have life changing experiences in wild places thanks to the newly re-named Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant

Sallyhudson detail

The Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant, run by the Trust in memory of two respected Scottish mountaineers, will this year support four exciting educational and scientific projects in Orkney, the Scottish Highlands, Kyrgyzstan and the USA.

David Reilly, a 45-year-old Edinburgh man who has waged a lifelong battle against cerebral palsy will undertake an extraordinary bicycle journey to explore the archaeological, natural and cultural heritage of Orkney.

Dr Erica Morley, a scientist from the University of Bristol will lead a unique survey in three areas of the Highlands – Inverness-shire, Ross and Cromarty and Argyll –into the hearing of the Large Heath butterfly (Coenonympha tullia) whose range is restricted to wet boggy habitats.

Caroline Flyn, from Beauly in Easter Ross, will ride 2000 miles on horseback along the historic route of the Pony Express linking up along the way with Scottish school pupils via blogs, videos and Skype—based talks.

Sally Hudson (pictured above), a climber from Fort William will use her monitoring experience gained over three years as part of the annual Ben Nevis North Face Survey will study and report on rare alpine plant-life in the remote Djenghi Jer Mountains of Kyrgyzstan.

Each of the four applicants will receive £750 towards the cost of their expeditions from the Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant, which is awarded annually. Bill Wallace died in the Alps in 2006 while skiing – with two artificial hips ­– at the age of 73. Des Rubens, a popular 63-year old teacher at Craigroyston High School, was killed in June 2016 in an Alpine climbing accident.

Toby Clark, the John Muir Award Scotland Manager who coordinates the Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant said: “ The panel was delighted by the calibre and range of the applications this year.

“Bill and Des would be proud that their legacy is helping support such a diverse range of diverse expeditions in wild places from the Northern Isles to Central Asia.

“We’d like to congratulate Caroline, Erica, Sally and David and wish them all the best with these groundbreaking projects.”

Recipients thank the Trust

Sally Hudson: “I am absolutely delighted to be a recipient of the Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant, and find it difficult to express just how grateful I am to be considered deserving of such an award.

“It has long been a dream of mine to climb new summits in an unexplored area of Kyrgyzstan. To now be doing it with the support of the John Muir Trust is an honour. The grant is a huge boost to the expedition and will go a long way to help myself and the rest of the team achieve our goals.”

Caroline Flyn: "I'm so delighted to receive the support of the Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant towards the costs of my 1900-mile horseback expedition. As well as making an enormous practical difference, it’s also a confidence boost to know I have the John Muir Trust at my back.

“I admire the work of the Trust greatly, and hope that through my writing and speaking. I can spread knowledge of and appreciation of the wild landscapes I will travel across.”

David Reilly: “Through my own adventures I hope to improve both access and equity of opportunity in outdoor and country sports. The archaeological sites of Orkney are a window into all our heritage and this money will help towards opening them up to an ever wider audience.

“It’s crucial that we all have access and the ability to study the past, and to preserve the sites for future generations.   I’m excited about the trip and hope that the writing I produce will benefit the whole community. And I’m extremely grateful to the John Muir Trust and look forward to working with them.”

Erica Morley: “I’m delighted to have been awarded the Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant to help us study the sensory ecology of butterfly hearing.

“Little is known about the hearing of butterflies, especially of small species from temperate climates like Scotland. This project will provide insight into how their ears work and what they might be listening to in their natural environment.”

 Find out more about the Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant.