A KIND-HEARTED Cumnock man has raised over £1,000 for Islay Dog Rescue by walking 148km along the Ayrshire Coastal Path – passing through numerous villages and towns to help local pooches.

John Mathews, 23, started volunteering with the animal shelter, located in Glen Islay Farm in Cumnock, in July when coronavirus restrictions started to ease.

The army man wanted to use his time between leave to raise the funds which will go towards vets bills and other mounting costs as a result of COVID-19.

John set off on his epic stroll on August 11 with the intention of completing it within a couple of days, but the yellow weather warning which blighted East Ayrshire soon cut his walk short, as did extreme fatigue.

The man will now honour his mileage and the donations he received by running a set distance each week until the end of the year.

John said: “In the first day I did around 22 miles but when I had my break at Girvan, my legs gave in. I took a break but when I went to stand back up, I fell down.

“At that point, Lorraine from the shelter wanted me to stop because of the thunderstorm happening at that time. She didn’t want me walking through the night so I stopped.

“Then I was on holiday and now due to time constraints with work and college, I’m doing a series of 9km runs that will make up the distance I have left to do.”

The Kilmarnock College student has secured 34 miles in total so far but says the prospect of giving the dogs a better life outweighs the physical task ahead.

John continued: “I love dogs. When I’m on leave I like to go up and help with them. Dogs go through a lot of hardships, just as much as people do.

“The shelter has had a lot of difficulties with money so I decided to stop the fundraising page early and hand the money in.

“Although it’s me doing the walk, everyone has got their own part to play.

“Thanks to Lorraine and Michelle for giving me the opportunity to do this.”

Islay Dog Rescue is operated by Lorraine Jardine and Michelle alongside a host of dedicated volunteers who continue working throughout the pandemic to give animals a better life.

Manager Lorraine commended John, saying: “It’s been a hard time because all our fundraising events were cancelled so other than the likes of John doing this, we would have struggled.

“I’ve always said that if we’re forced to close through bills, it would be vets bills that would take us down as they’re around £1,000 a month.

“We are actively re-homing though and have got more people looking for dogs than we have dogs at the moment.”