Roll out the barrel for Davy’s new challenge

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Big Davy Ballantyne is used to big challenges, but his latest may be the most important of our troubled times.

For he is trying to raise awareness of mental health issues which are an increasing concern as the lockdown in Scotland continues.

Of course being Big Davy there is nothing simple or straighfoward as to how he will do it. So for his latest challenge he will walk round Arran’s 70-mile coastal way with a 50kg (8st) whisky barrel strapped on his back.


Davy, who will turn 59 during his latest feat, is no stranger to challenges. The Kilmory man famously dragged an anvil up Goatfell four years ago and two years ago dragged 60kg of chains up Ben Nevis. Both feats raising thousands for the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) charity.

He had originally planned to do the cask walk for the same charity, but decided that, at this time, the Samaritans were the most worthy cause, as they are in desperate need of funds during the coronavirus pandemic.

Big Davy, who is now the groundsman at the Lagg Distillery, which has supplied the whisky barrel, said: ‘I personally know people myself who are struggling during these trying times and I think it is important to let everyone know that the Samaritans are always there to help them.’

He has not set a cash target for the cask walk since, he says, the most important thing is to raise awareness, but a JustGiving page has been started titled: Big Davy’s Barrel Challenge for Samaritans Emergency Appeal.


Big Davy with the 50kg whisky barrel he will carry round Arran.

The challenge will start for Davy on Monday May 18 and finish 10 days later, after he takes the weekend off in the middle to recover. Photographer Fraser Aitchison will be there with him again to record the event on camera and to give Davy a laugh.

He will start at Kildonnan, the rockiest and most difficult section of the route, and head north to Blackwaterfoot walking anti-clockwise round the island. If you see him be sure to give him a toot or a wave of encouragement.

‘We know that these times are financially tough for an awful lot of people and we understand that donating to the Samaritans is not possible for all. Coronavirus is impacting all of our lives. This crisis is the biggest challenge Samaritans has ever faced,’ Davy said.

A spokeswoman for the Samaritans Scotland said: ‘Before coronavirus hit, 20,000 Samaritans volunteers were answering a call for help every six seconds.This could be someone you know, family or friends in urgent need but unable to talk to anyone in the middle of the night. It is more important than ever for Samaritans to be there 24/7, 365 days a year for those who need us.

‘But the Samaritans’ helpline is feeling the pressure. They’re likely to experience more people struggling to cope or in crisis and they may have less volunteers to help answer calls for help. Their teams are working hard to ensure that we can still be here 24/7 for those who are in crisis. Your donation to Samaritans Emergency Appeal will help them reach those who are struggling to cope. It will help Samaritans recruit more volunteers and work faster on different ways to be there. Change the life of someone who desperately needs them.’

To donate just type Big Davy into the JustGiving search page.

  • See Davy in 20 years ago this week where he is, of course, helping to raise money for charity.