Colin McPherson

Photographer and Visual Artist

Posts tagged ‘Hoylake’

Running for Musa

Musa outside his family home in Swaziland

Musa outside his family home in Swaziland

As you may be aware, eight years ago I was privileged to meet Musa, an intelligent, humble and hardworking family man from the impoverished African nation of Swaziland.

During an assignment to the country, I took off one Saturday morning into the mountains near the capital city Mbabane, and encountered Musa gathering wood for the fire at the homestead he shared with four generations of his family. We struck up a conversation and formed an instant bond. I was fortunate enough to meet Musa’s family and hear how he was almost solely responsible for its financial wellbeing. This heavy burden he bore with grace and strength and it is no exaggeration to say Musa is one of the most impressive human beings I have met.

At the time, he was determined to improve his economic situation by embarking on a college education, one which he would have to fit in with his work as a clerk and his responsibilities caring for his elderly and sick relatives.

I made a commitment that day to Musa to help him, and with the generous assistance of many friends, relatives and strangers, we have raised over £3000 during the last eight years, which has helped not only paying for Musa’s tuition fees in Swaziland, but also assisted in buying materials to maintain the family dwelling huts, and also bringing electricity to Musa’s family (they were the last in the valley to be connected).

Almost all the money raised has been from my annual running of the Hoylake 10k race each September and auctioning of my photography. Unfortunately, due to injury, I have not been able to participate in the last two races, but I am delighted to say I am now running again and will be taking part in the 2016 event, on Sunday, 25th September.

So here’s how you can help me raise the minimum £750 I need to pay for Musa’s latest academic fees for his accountancy courses in 2016-17. Just predict my finishing time. As simple as that. Entries cost £5 each – you can guess as many times as you wish. And here’s your reward: the guess closest to my finishing time will win a signed and mounted digital print of any one of my photographs. That’s right – you can select any image from my entire collection and it will be printed 20″ x 16″ (or equivalent) and shipped off to you.

Please support me if you can. I know times are tight, but education offers Musa a route to an easier existence. He is so grateful for everything we have done for him and I am asking on his behalf to give a little to gain a lot.

To enter, simply go to my Paypal account: and enter your guesses along with your details. If you wish to pay by cheque, please email me:

I am predicting a time of around 50 minutes, so please make your guesses in minutes and seconds (i.e. 49:52).

Thank you so much!

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Hardy Annual

Sunset over Mull, from Easdale Island, 2013

‘Sunset over Mull, from Easdale Island, 2013.’ Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

In 2008, I was privileged to be able to travel to the tiny southern African state of Swaziland to explore and photograph the wonderful natural environment and the country’s people. It was an unforgettable experience and one which, by a chance meeting, changed many of my perceptions about Africa.

I encountered Musa, a man then in his late 20s, on a dusty, country road, deep in the Drakensberg mountains. He emerged from the small farm steading he shared with three generations of his family, and we soon struck up a long conversation, during which he told me about his life, the struggle he and his family had with the effects of HIV and Aids and how economic policies of the First World were directly affecting his life and land. I was immediately struck not only by his insightfulness and intelligence, but also his determination to make life better for himself and those around him. He was, and still is, an inspiration to me.

I resolved from that moment to do everything in my limited powers to assist him. Over the following two years, myself, my family and a group of friends helped him attend college part-time to gain qualifications in accountancy. By improving his skills and continuing his education, he would increase his chances of gaining better employment and therefore be able to support his extended family, many of whom were elderly, infirm or ill.

Over the last four years, my principal method of raising money for Musa and his family has been through my participation in the annual Hoylake 10k race, staged in my home town. Through the support of many friends and strangers, I have run and raised over £3000. This money is divided in two: half goes to Musa, to pay for everyday essentials, repairs to his home, or to fund his continuing education. The other half goes to an equally worthwhile cause: the Wednesday Special Needs Club, based at the Hoylake Community Centre (registered charity no. 1015141). They use the money donated to improve facilities for disabled people of all ages who come to use their superb Sensory Garden. I am proud to assist them.

In addition to the money raised through running, my family makes a personal contribution to assist Musa, thereby guaranteeing that the support reaches around £1000 annually. I know from my communications with Musa, that he and his family are deeply grateful for all the help they receive.

So how does my Hoylake 10k fundraising work? Simple: if you wish to support me, you make a guess (or guesses!) as to what my race finishing time will be in minutes and seconds (ie 48:23). The guess which is the nearest inside my official finishing time receives a 20″ x 16″ signed and mounted one-off print of the image displayed at the top of this page. Each year I select one of my photographs to give away as a prize. This year’s image is of two lone figures surrounded by a sunset on Scotland’s west coast. It speaks of the scale and power of nature and how tiny we are as humans in comparison. And yet, we are can make as powerful a contribution to the world as nature itself.

To win the photograph you can guess as many times as you want – each guess costs £5. You can make payments and guesses through Paypal at: or email me your guesses to: – and I’ll send you my details for payment via cheque or bank transfer. It’s that easy! Remember you can guess as many times as you like for £5 per go.

After the finish of the 2012 Hoylake 10k race.

After the finish of the 2012 Hoylake 10k race.

To give you a clue about this year’s finishing time – I am looking at running the race somewhere between 45-55 minutes. The race takes place on Sunday, 15th September, at 11am.

For the last five years I have made this annual appeal. And each year, I am overwhelmed by the response. I hope that you will be able to support me in 2013 and help me raise money and awareness for these two very deserving and worthwhile causes. Many thanks!

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