Highlanders ready to go 1,000 miles and more to march for Europe

Activists from across the Highlandsand Islands – one of the strongest pro-remain areas inthe UK – are desperate to have their voices heard at the #PutItToThePeople march in London on Saturday. But they face the massive logistical and financial challenge ofgetting to London, a round trip of more than 1,400 miles for some. Now, a partnership with their counterparts atthe other end of the country, in Lambeth, has helpedpave the path south. Gill Bird, Moray resident andorganiser for Highlands for Europe, said: “We’redetermined to have our voices heard, and to stop theshambles the Brexit has become, no matter how far wehave to go. The north of Scotland will be badly hit bythe loss of EU funding and lower exports, and thedeparture of our EU fellow-citizens. But more than that,we just want peace, stability, prosperity and progressfor our families and our communities. She added: “It’s essential thatScotland is represented – not just because we votedremain, but also because we need to show the world thatthe People’s Vote movement belongs to every part of thecountry. But it’s a long old way from the Highlands ofScotland to central London, and a real challenge if youhave a large group of people.” Step up to the plate Lambeth forEurope, and a campaigner originally from Helmsdale inSutherland. Fiona Mackenzie approached the Highlandgroup and helped them set up a crowdfunder to get themto the #PutItToThePeople March. Lambeth for Europe andneighbouring Londoners from Wandsworth and MertonEuropean Movement mobilised supporters, and with theirhelp smashed the £2,500 fundraising target within fivedays. “Now we can put on a coach of 70 people from Invernessto London, and it costs just £20 per person thanks tothe hard work of all our fundraisers,” Bird said. “Wehave been overwhelmed by the generosity, kindness andencouragement shown by fellow Remainers – one lady haseven offered to make us breakfast!” As well asInverness, the fundraising meant coaches could be bookedfrom Glasgow and Edinburgh. So far, they are expected totake more than 300 Scots to the march, but coaches arebeing added as demand grows. Members of the London groups will greet the wearytravellers when they arrive on the morning of the march.Mackenzie, from Lambeth for Europe, said: “In Lambeth,we are in the lucky position of just having to wanderover the Thames to make our voices heard. But the wholecountry is in this together. It felt absolutely rightthat we should help as many Highlanders as possible bealongside us at the #PutItToThePeople march.” “Their presence shows just how broadthis movement is – and how determined,” Mackenzie added. “We have people coming not just from Scotland but allacross the UK, and beyond. This will be a truly nationalgathering to demand a vote on the reality of Brexit,which is so clearly not what was promised. And we wantcitizens of other EU countries, and those who votedLeave but are ‘Remainers Now’, to join us front andcentre at the march.” Prominent among the passengers on theHighland coach will be students from across thedifferent campuses of the University of the Highlandsand Islands, which stretch from Shetland to Argyll. Sorcha Kirker, Vice-President of theHighlands and Islands Student Association (HISA) said: “Students are a vital part of the push for a People’sVote, as it is their future that is at stake withBrexit. Our members come from all over the UK andEurope, and on the day they will be travelling from asfar away as Orkney and Stornoway. Some of them will makea round trip of over 1,400 miles, using ferries, busses,trains and taxis to get themselves to that startingline. If that isn’t dedication, then I don’t know whatis.”