A 40-year-old from the west coast of Scotland is swimming two miles in Loch Lomond to fundraise for a school in Haiti. 

Richard Woods, originally from Belfast but now living in Troon, is a trustee of Mission International and aims to raise money for a building project in Ouanaminthe in Haiti. 

After the devastating earthquake in 2010, Richard and his team travelled to the country to provide aid and support to the town of Ouanaminthe. 

The natural disaster resulted in the loss of 200,000 lives, and left over a million people homeless. 

Upon seeing the news coverage, the Mission International charity resolved to try to make a difference to victims of the tragic event.

Richard said: “Over the last six years, I have returned to Haiti nine times, with another visit planned for October of this year. 

“What became clear during our visits was that education was a serious problem. 

“Around 50% of children do not have regular schooling so in response to this problem, the Mission International Haiti project was started.” 

He added: “The aim is to build a primary school for 300 children, which will also double as a church on Sunday and a community space in the evening for adult learning.”

Over the past two years, Richard and his team have been one of the Church of Scotland Guild's chosen charities, which has resulted in a fantastic amount of fundraising so far. 

Richard said: “We have managed to raise £80K already, however we will need another £80K more in order to finish the project. 

“We now own the land in Ouanaminthe and hope that building work will begin this October.”

As part of his fundraising, Richard is taking on the two-mile distance at the Great Scottish Swim on Saturday 26 August. 

The event takes place in Loch Lomond, offering a range of distances for swimmers of all ages and abilities: a half mile, 1 mile, 2 miles, 5K and 10K.

Richard swam one mile of the open water event last year, but has committed to another mile for his second time.

He said: “I have been a swimmer for a few years, though not a very good one if truth be told.

“I decided to make a bigger effort this time round and push myself; it will not be easy.”

Although it is a personal challenge for Richard, the motivation to fundraise for the school in Ouanaminthe will help him to cross the finish line.

He said: “I am no great athlete and this is a serious challenge for me, but I am passionate about what we are trying to do in Haiti. 

“When you meet the wonderful children in Ouanaminthe, you realise that this little sacrifice is more than worth it for the opportunity for them to have an education.”

He added: “Our long-term hope is to continue beyond the building of this firth school to look at other projects in the years ahead.”

Sponsor Richard's fundraising for the school in Ouanaminthe, Haiti here: https://my.give.net/swimmingforMIhaiti 

Entries for the Great Scottish Swim are now open. Enter at http://www.greatrun.org/great-swim/great-scottish-swim