AN inspirational schoolboy with a chronic illness is aiming to complete a 82-mile trek for charity.
Twelve-year-old Gavin Mackay began planning his walk along the East Highland Way while recuperating from a major bowel operation.
The Milne’s High School pupil was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease nearly two years ago.
Having undergone many procedures and operations – most recently on November 25 – Gavin is confident he will have his strength back in time for the trek from Aviemore to Fort William in July.
He will be accompanied by his dad Stewart, best friend James Leslie and his dad Roger, while mum Jackie will provide back-up support.
Gavin, of Pinewood Road, Mosstodloch, said: "I was diagnosed in January 2011, but I’ve probably had it since I was eight. I had symptoms for a couple of years beforehand."
Stewart added: "It was a locum doctor who noticed cracks around his mouth and referred him.
"We had contemplated that it might be something worse and we really didn’t understand what Crohn’s was."
The disease can attack any part of the digestive system, causing ulceration, although it is most common in the small and large intestines. Symptoms can include fatigue, unintended weight loss, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
Stewart added: "We got a lot of information from Crohn’s and Colitis UK.
"Every year they organise a get-together and we managed to go when it was in Dundee.
"They had activities for the kids and guest speakers with information on advances in treatments and new developments."
"Unfortunately there is no cure at the moment, but you never know, maybe in the future."
Because of the help given by the inflammatory bowel disease charity and the Archie Foundation, which helps youngsters and their parents who receive treatment in the Royal Aberdeen Sick Children’s Hospital, funds from next year’s walk will be split between the two.
Stewart said: "Gavin’s treatment is carried out in Aberdeen and we were down there four times in two or three months. The children’s gastroenterology department at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital have been dealing with him since he was first diagnosed and it’s been a great help.
"They have the parents’ suite there. It means we can be close to him when he’s going through different operations and procedures.
"When Gavin was in hospital for his operation in November he was talking about raising money for the charity."
Gavin added: "They did so much for me I wanted to give something back.
"There’s younger people than me who have it."
At one point during his illness Gavin was unable to eat solid food for two months and had to take all his nourishment through a nasogastric tube.
To save his feelings, his classmates refused to eat honey cake in front of him during a lesson on bees.
Gavin said: "My friends have been really good, especially James. They’re very supportive."
James said: "Gavin has put up with it very well and I just wanted to show how much I respect him."
The boys are planning to carry all their camping equipment with them on their seven-day trek. Their aim is to raise £1,000, which will be split evenly between the two charities and they are also looking for corporate sponsors who will have their logos printed on James and Gavin’s T-shirts.
Anyone who would like to make a donation can do so at www.justgiving.com/gavinandjameslongwalkforcrones andarchie
Businesses wanting more information on sponsoring the boys can call Stewart on 07789 904668.