Locals are being encouraged to come together in a show of strength to remember six-year-old girl Alesha MacPhail.
Alesha’s body was discovered in Port Bannatyne last week, hours after the schoolgirl from Airdrie had been reported missing while on holiday on the island. A 16-year-old boy has been charged in connection with her death.
As locals struggle to come to terms with this tragic death on the island, the organisers of a previously-arranged bike ride this Saturday hope to use their event in a positive way, to bring islanders together.
The recently-formed Bute Community Cycling Club is holding The Big Bike Revival ride from Rothesay to Mount Stuart and back in memory of Alesha and to raise money for her family.
The club’s Victoria O’Reilly hopes the event will bring the local community together.
She said: “We thought we could do a tribute to Alesha, hold the bike ride in her name.
“Before we head off on the ride, we will have a minute’s silence and have some donation boxes throughout the course to raise money for the family.
“We were wondering if what’s happened might put people off doing a family event. But if they come together in memory of Alesha and raise money for her family then it’s a good thing.
“It’s a nice thought. I think a lot of people want to do things for Alesha and her family.”
The free four-mile cycle meets at the Discovery Centre at noon on Saturday.
Victoria added: “Just turn up. It starts at Winter Gardens. I think it’s good to come together and shine a positive light on the island.
“In terms of recent events, initially we thought people wouldn’t come out, but this should encourage people to do the opposite and be part of a worthwhile cause.”
Victoria hopes this will be the first of many events organised by her new club.
She said: “We are just established. But between the three of us we need to work out our positions on the board. It’s part of a UK Cycling initiative to stimulate cycling and get people out on their bikes.
“We have got mechanical support from the Bike Shed to get people’s bikes up and running fit to do the ride. After this we want to organise further events.
“The idea is to get people that don’t normally ride a bike out cycling again.
“Hopefully, we can get a lot of members into the club. It’s obviously still a very new club given this is our first event.
“The island is such a beautiful place to ride and also very safe given the quiet roads. We hope to attract more people on to the island to cycle here as well as islanders.”
The strength of feeling on the island prompted Rima Macernis, from Rothesay, to start a crowdfunding appeal.
As The Buteman went to press, the fund had raised more than £12,000 to support the MacPhail family.
Donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/love-for-alesha
Hundreds of people packed Guildford Square, Rothesay, on Sunday evening to hold a candle-lit vigil in memory of Alesha.
A teenage boy has appeared in court charged with the rape and murder of the young girl.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, made no plea during a private appearance at Greenock Sheriff Court last Friday.
He was remanded in custody and is due to make a further court appearance later this month.