Cliff-hanger of an ending for Rotarian’s 1,000-mile dictionary walk

Rotarian Dennis Bayley used a near-disaster in Scotland to complete the final few feet of his 1,000-mile walk to raise money for the purchase of dictionaries for Grade 4 pupils in Scugog schools.

With 999.3 miles under the soles of his shoes – and enough funds collected to provide dictionaries for Grade 4 students this year and next as well as 100 books for First Nations children in Northern Ontario who are participating in a Port Perry Rotary Club literacy project – Mr. Bayley decided to take a few rest days overseas to recover from a muscle spasm in his back.

But the fates were conspiring against him.

While an evening off-road trip in a Land Rover through rugged country in Western Scotland afforded wonderful views of the Inner Hebrides Islands, hazardous road conditions were about to get Mr. Bayley moving again … and fast. Traversing a steep and winding narrow track bordered by a precipitous drop on the passenger side, the sight seers rounded a bend and found the road blocked by a large fallen tree. The driver, Jim Malcolm – the husband of Mr. Bayley’s cousin who was piloting the excursion – was reversing skillfully down the track, when suddenly the Land Rover skidded on a section of the path made muddy by a stream. Without warning, Mr. Bayley was treated to a grand view of the tops of the trees below, as the vehicle’s front passenger side slid across the track and over the edge of the overhang.

The Land Rover came to a teetering halt, listing at a rakish 35-degree angle and Mr. Bayley made a hasty exit, scrambling across the back seat without a moment’s consideration for his tender back, to emerge unscathed out of the rear driver’s side door.

It was during the brisk 1.5 mile walk back to the nearest intersection that Mr. Bayley – a heart-attack survivor – completed his 1,000 mile dictionary walk, proving without a doubt that Port Perry Rotarians will go to extreme lengths in the name of literacy!

by Tracey Coveart/The Scugog Standard

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