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A former soldier spends his 80th birthday rowing the Atlantic at the Inverness Tesco store to raise money for the armed forces charity Erskine Hospital

Johnnie Baillie “rows the Atlantic” on his 80th birthday.

A former soldier spent his 80th birthday ‘rowing the Atlantic’ as part of a fundraising mission for an armed forces charity.

Johnnie Baillie, from Inverness, strives to row the equivalent of 3,000 miles – or five million meters – at 5,000 meters of racing a day on a rowing machine.

The octogenarian started his challenge a few months ago and continued his daily stint even on his milestone birthday after settling into the Tesco store in the city’s shopping park – where he previously worked for 20 years – to reach 1,835,000 m.

Mr Baillie, who lives with his wife Gina, in Glenburn Drive, estimates he should hit his target in November but plans to row his last mile in the real Atlantic on the west coast.

The money raised will go to Erskine Hospital, Renfrewshire, which provides a range of services to veterans of the Scottish-based armed forces and their families.

His previous fundraising projects have raised over £11,000 for Erskine, while his rowing challenge has raised £2,500 so far.

“Rowing is pretty much the best exercise you can do,” Mr Baillie said on his birthday.

“I might as well take this opportunity to do something useful.”

There was no special celebration afterwards as he was quite tired and preparing for the relay the following day, but he hopes to organize a family celebration after the end of his mission.

As well as raising money for Erskine, Mr Baillie raised over £8,000 for children’s charity Chas over the years, and over £1,000 for the Kinlochshiel Junior Shinty League, when he lived in South West Ross and ran his wife’s family croft, while working as “Kishorn Commando” on the concrete oil rig construction site.

Educated at Durness Primary School and the former Sutherland Technical School in Golspie, Mr Baillie joined the Royal Military Police for three years aged 18, and served primarily in security at NATO Headquarters, then located in Paris.

He always maintained an interest in the army and, after returning to civilian life, joined the army reserve. He volunteered for a stint as a member of the British peacekeeping force in Bosnia in the 1990s.

His father, John Baillie, was one of the most experienced Highland sheep-farming experts of his generation and was awarded the MBE for his contribution to agriculture.

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