AN 88-YEAR-OLD Borders man has completed hundreds of miles on his rowing machine to help a hospital in Africa.

Ex-teacher Kenneth Hall, who lives in Clovenfords, carried out the exercise between April 23-25 for this year’s virtual Kiltwalk.

He has raised thousands of pounds to help fund a digital X-ray system for the Bardai Hospital in northern Chad.

Mr Hall told the Border Telegraph he is “feeling very happy”, adding: “People have been very generous.”

Before taking on the challenge, Mr Hall managed to raise £12,300 with the help of friends, family, fellow church-goers and the Hunter Foundation.

“I’d never heard of the Kiltwalk before,” said Mr Hall. “Because of the COVID-19 situation it was virtual, so I said I wanted to take part.”

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Although Bardai Hospital currently has an X-ray machine, it lacks the proper facilities to develop any images for patients, and anyone requiring an X-ray would have to travel 410 miles (656km) to Faya, an oasis, to find the nearest alternative. The journey is longer than Galashiels to London.

Mr Hall said when he mentioned the Kiltwalk to a couple he knows at the Chad hospital, they suggested he cover the same distance as the X-ray journey.

“In no way could I walk that in three days,” said Mr Hall, “so I told them about my exercise and they suggested that I do it by rowing – symbolically of course.”

The former secondary school teacher – who has worked in Essex, Kent and Warwickshire – uses his rowing machine daily to keep fit after having a triple bypass surgery in 2004. Before lockdown, he went to the gym twice a week.

Mr Hall decided to take part in this year’s virtual Kiltwalk after it was suggested by a fellow member of the Galashiels Baptist Church congregation.

Border Telegraph: Kenneth Hall, 88, has raised thousands of pounds through his rowing machine challenge. Photo: Helen BarringtonKenneth Hall, 88, has raised thousands of pounds through his rowing machine challenge. Photo: Helen Barrington

As a descendent of the Grant family, Mr Hall put in an order for a Grant tartan kilt to wear for the challenge.

Describing how he calculated how far he would cover each day on the rowing machine, Mr Hall said: “I added a nought on the end [of 656km] and divided that by three.

“So, that’s 6,560 divided by three is 2,187 metres or let’s call it pulls – I reckoned one pull was a metre – and so that required that number of pulls every day.”

At the time of speaking with the Border Telegraph, Mr Hall said he had raised more than his £9,000 goal.

“I set myself the target of £9,000, but I in fact raised £10,210 [by Sunday, May 2]. So I got well beyond my target.”

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Donations were made to Mr Hall through a JustGiving page and he let people know about his challenge in a leaflet he sent with Easter cards. He also sent it to members of his church congregation.

Mr Hall, who is sight impaired, said the doctors in Bardai had been very encouraging during his challenge.

“The couple even planned a route from Bardai to the oasis of Faya,” Mr Hall said.

“And my [leaflet] designer reproduced it on a map. It starts off in the highlands of Chad and descends to the desert below.”

Donations to Mr Hall’s fundraiser can be made by visting this website.