A MAN walking though Moray next week carrying a 12ft cross is looking for your help to bear the load.
Gordon Cruden is setting off on Easter Sunday to carry the 3st wooden cross 600 miles around Scotland in just one month.
His aim is to help the drug addiction charity Teen Challenge North East Scotland to buy the Benaiah recovery centre for women it runs near Mintlaw.
The Crosswalk is taking place as alarming statistics reveal the number of drug-related deaths in Scotland rose 15 per cent in a single year, to their highest ever figure.
More than 700 people died as a result of drug abuse in 2015 – 87 more than the 613 recorded in 2014.
The 2015 figure (the 2016 stats are not yet available) was also more than double the number of drug deaths recorded a decade ago, when the total stood at 336.
Statistics, released by the National Records of Scotland also reveal that deaths in the north and north east have almost doubled in recent times – from 36 to 69 in Grampian in a single year, and from 18 to 35 in the Highlands in two years.
Gordon, who is Teen Challenge’s regional manager, is due to pass through Cullen on Tuesday evening and Elgin on Wednesday evening before heading off towards Nairn the next morning.
Supporters are welcome to walk with him for 100 yards or tag along for the full 20 miles which he aims to complete each day.
Gordon said: "It’s clear that our work to put hope in the reach of addicts, and help them out of the mess and mayhem of addiction, is as essential as ever.
"These latest stats are big numbers, but we have to remember that at the centre of each of these are families and friends, devastated by the collateral damage caused by drugs.
"This all makes our crosswalk challenge all the more timely. The initiative will raise money needed to buy our women’s addiction recovery home, Benaiah, as we look to do all we can to help individuals from becoming another heartbreaking statistic.
"We’re excited to be passing through Moray and would encourage any of our supporters to join us.
"We will be walking through towns like Elgin to raise not only funds but also awareness of the drugs issue and, ultimately, the answer to life-controlling addictions."
Teen challenge’s five-year fundraising drive to buy the Benaiah centre, which it currently rents, has so far raised about 80 per cent of the £535,000 needed.
The facility allows mothers to continue living with their children while they complete the faith-based recovery programme.
Purchasing the property would mean many more women could be helped break free from the horrors of addiction to live clean, free lives.
Gordon’s walk will set off this Sunday from Benaiah, and will take in Inverness, cross over the Lecht, then go down to the Central Belt, before finishing at Sunnybrae, the men’s recovery centre the charity runs at Fyvie.
To keep up to date with the Crosswalk’s progress and to find out when Gordon and the team will be walking through Cullen and Elgin, check out Teen Challenge North East Scotland’s Facebook page.
The Crosswalk also has its own JustGiving page.