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John Hartson Latest Signing for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland West Highland Way Team

Champion Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland fundraiser, Chris Mullen, has unveiled a star signing joining his team to take on his latest fundraising challenge.

Former Celtic striker John Hartson had no hesitation in saying yes when Chris asked him to join a team walking the fabled West Highland Way.

Chris has already raised more than £7,300 for the charity when he climbed Ben Nevis in 2020 in memory of his late mum, Marie Milne, who suffered from the debilitating chest condition COPD.

So, when he told John of the plan to tackle the 96 miles of one of the toughest but most scenic walking routes in Scotland, the footballing hero signed up on the spot.

Now Chris and John will lead a team of six in the challenge this May, aiming to raise funds for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and the Scottish Ambulance Service Endowment Fund.

Celtic legend John, 46, says: “When I was at Celtic as a player, I got to know Marie really well. In fact, she used to do all my fan mail. All the players loved her. She was a real character. And I was so sad when she passed away.

“I’ve always fancied doing the West Highland Way. My in-laws live just outside Fort William, and I always see the bench that marks the finishing spot and imagine how it would feel to reach it after all those miles. When Chris told me his plan, I instantly said I was in.”

Chris, 34, of Glasgow, had never climbed Ben Nevis before his 2020 challenge. He’s never walked the West Highland Way either, but he’s ready to rise to any challenge to keep his late mum’s memory alive and help others with similar conditions.

He says: “I wanted to do another big challenge to keep raising money for CHSS because of the vital work they do to care for people with COPD. My mum had COPD and so does my dad so it’s a cause that means a lot to me.

“As soon as I mentioned the West Highland Way to John, he was on board. We’re not setting any targets, but it would be fantastic to beat the total raised by the Ben Nevis climb.

“I’ve also been working in NHS Test and Trace during the pandemic and seeing so many people left with chest and lung conditions because of Covid-19 has made me more determined to do something to help.”

The six-strong team are aiming to raise as much as possible for CHSS and will also make a donation to the Scottish Ambulance Service Endowment Fund in recognition of the vital role the Ambulance Service played in saving John’s life.

John said: “My life was saved by the ambulance service, and I think the work paramedics do is incredible and so undervalued. This is my chance to do something for the Scottish Ambulance Service and for CHSS, who do so much to help people like Marie.”

Allan Cowie, Director of Service Delivery at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, added: “What John, Chris and the team are doing will make such a huge difference to people’s lives. The money they raise will be helping people with COPD breathe better and spend more quality time with those they love.

“Every £20 raised funds an hour of support so please get behind the team as much as you can!”

The six-strong team who will set out from Milngavie on May 1 are: Chris Mullen, John Hartson, Robert Spiers, Brian Joyce, Dylan Docherty and Marc Milne.

You can donate to them at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/west-highland-in-memory-of-my-mum?qid=0173552a72cbebccabe67bc0b18bdf34

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