SOME people drive the North Coast 500 but one Dunbar student is hoping to go one better and cycle the whole route in one week to raise money for two internships.

Lachlan Irvine-Hand, who moved to Scotland from Yorkshire and has lived in Dunbar for five years, is swapping the kitchen for humanitarian work, having previously worked as a chef at hotels in Edinburgh, as well as Gleneagles in Perthshire.

The 23-year-old decided to change careers 18 months ago to humanitarian aid and in the coming months is embarking on internships in South Africa and Fiji.

He said he wanted “to do something that was helpful and more important with my life”, adding: “I believe, given how the past 18 months have unfolded, that making an impact in a good direction is important to all of us. I’ve always wanted to do something good and, for me, this is the best way to do that.

“I want to make more of an impact and make a change.”

Also brought on by the pandemic, he is currently studying politics, economics and philosophy at the Open University to pursue a career in humanitarian relief.

As well as his academic studies, he is also encouraged to gain practical experience.

The main way to gain practical skills is through internships of which he is undertaking two, both unpaid.

The first is with the VA Corps, a charity based in Cape Town. Here, Lachlan will be supporting refugees and asylum seekers from Somalia, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.

He is due to leave in September and will be away for three months.

The second is a marine conservation internship with GVI, which works with communities to protect marine areas and conserve coral reef environments.

Based in Fiji, from next June Lachlan will work with local fishermen and marine life to bring balance back to the oceans, again for three months.

The project aims to support local fishermen to plan and manage stock, with Lachlan collecting data from fishing grounds, which many communities rely on, and attempting to stabilise habitats.

He called both “a life-long dream” that he is “excited to embark on”.

But before he can head off, he needs to raise about £15,000 to cover all of his expenses. He has already saved about half the necessary funds and is now taking on a mammoth challenge.

As well as selling home-baked goods around East Lothian, he is cycling the North Coast 500 next month.

The 500-mile route around the Scottish Highlands is often dubbed ‘Scotland’s Route 66’. It starts at Inverness and takes people on a trip north around the Highland coastline back to Inverness.

Lachlan aims to leave on July 5 and be back in Inverness a week later on July 12, with plans to do between 80 and 90 miles a day and camping along the way.

He is currently training for the challenge by completing cycles across the county.

He said: “I’ve always fancied cycling it and thought it was a good thing to aim for.

“For me it’s going to be fun and a little adventure in itself.

“I’ve fallen in love with Scotland since I came up here and I want to see the Highlands properly before I go.”

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