A SOUTH Ayrshire resident says he is making Islamic history by walking up and down the hill to Dundonald Castle 20 times a day for a period of 20 days to raise money for the charity Islamic Relief UK.

The sponsored challenge, taken up by 25 year-old Rehaan Aatif, who moved to Dundonald from Glasgow a year ago, is part of Islamic Relief’s Charity Week, a fundraising initiative to raise money for children in some of the world’s poorest countries.

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Aatif said: “The theme of this year’s Charity Week is ‘Islamic history’. Dundonald Castle has a lot of history, and I was thinking I must be the first Muslim to do this kind of challenge – so I must be making Islamic history right there!”

The historic Dundonald Castle, built for Robert II on his accession to the throne of Scotland in 1371 and used as a royal residence by both Robert II and his son Robert III, is at the top of a hill overlooking Dundonald village.

Aatif said he was inspired during the long days of lockdown when he would look out of the window at Dundonald Castle.

He said: “My house overlooks the castle and I kept looking at it and thinking, ‘what can I do around this landmark that would make a good sponsored challenge for Charity Week?’

“Then I heard about the ‘2020 Challenge’ – applying the number 20 to the challenge you’re doing. I wanted to push myself and thought the steep climb would definitely allow me to do this.”

Aatif has been embarking on the challenge early and seeing the sun rise. He said one lap up and down, which is 420 metres, takes him just under five minutes, and the full 20 laps take about an hour and a half.

Aatif has been a regular volunteer and fundraiser for Islamic Relief for five years now, mostly during Charity Week, a fundraising campaign for Muslim students in the UK that has raised more than £9 million in the last 16 years.

For three years in a row, he has hiked up Ben Nevis to raise money for children in some of the world’s poorest countries.

He said that as well as his Muslim faith, remembering the hardships of people across the world has kept him motivated.

He added: “This year has been a huge challenge for all of us, staying indoors, not seeing other people, and many people have lost their jobs.

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“But this crisis has been felt across the world, and in so many countries where Islamic Relief works, things have gone from bad to worse, with war-damaged health systems unable to cope and medical supplies unable to get to people who need them.

“Reading about people Islamic Relief supports who need to walk ridiculous distances just to fetch water or go to school puts things in perspective – the distance I’m walking each day is not much compared to them.”

You can sponsor Rehaan here: https://charity-week-2020.everydayhero.com/uk/rehaan-s-challenge-2020