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Huntly woman joins 500 mile Long Walk to Freedom

By Pat Scott

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A WOMAN who has been at the forefront of efforts to steer a recovery plan for Gordon Rural Action takes on an even bigger challenge in the coming weeks.

Today Diane Mathieson (40), GRA's acting chief officers begins a 527 mile trek around Scotland, walking from her home in Rhynie and finishing up in Glasgow in the Long Walk to Freedom to promote to the Digital Scottish Covenant to villages, towns and cities along the route.

Mrs Mathieson is a key member of the Digital Scottish Covenant, a new grassroots movement, which aims to empower communities by encouraging people to sign up to a pledge to instruct elected representatives of the need for fundamental change across society.

Mrs Mathieson will join the 1320 group of walkers, named in commemoration of the Declaration of Arbroath, as its fourth member when they arrive in Rhynie tomorrow night.

The group left Eilean Donan Castle in Skye on September 18 and aim to reach Glasgow on November 14. The walk, which follows rigorous Covid -19 guidelines, will continue through the borders before culminating on December 1 and Mrs Mathieson has not ruled out completing the full route.

They will walk a daily average of 18 miles and on Sunday at 5.30pm will be in Aberchirder before continuing through the north east to be inInverurie for 5.30pm next Friday and Aberdeen the following day.

Mrs Mathieson said: " I am not a seasoned walker but I am passionate about returning decision making powers to the people at ground level, empowering communities to create and maintain an environment which they both need and want, ensuring that we can all lead better lives.

"TheCOVID pandemic has shown us all how self-sufficient we can be. We have proved we can take control and do what is best for our communities from within.We know how best to live, work and survive within each of our areas. We should be able to adapt that for each and every area but only collective power and unity of our people can make this happen. It is for us to make the decisions on how services should be run."

Mrs Mathieson started preparing for the walk at the end of July, building up mileage every week.

She said: "I am slightly nervous about what I have taken on but extremely determined - the fundamental message has to be we need change. People do not understand that they have the power to change things.

"Support for the Digital Covenant is growing every day and a large number of the signatures we already have are from people in Aberdeenshire. "

The walkers have a back up crew in motorhomes but have been overwhelmed by the offers of accommodation and food from supporters.

For more information about the Digital Scottish Covenant,visit the website at www.digitalcovenant.scot.

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