A GROUP of Wee County boys are refusing to give up on a future life-changing experience in the Canadian wilderness, despite the dreaded hand of Covid-19

Alexander Payne, Kye O'Hagan, Thomas Nimmo, Kier Wedlock and Alexander Young were due to travel to Nova Scotia in an effort to earn their Duke of Edinburgh Gold award.

The group were fundraising for the trip when the pandemic put a hold on their plans, but leader John Nicolson is still hopeful that they will make it one day.

The boys were set to spend 11 days putting their canoeing skills to the test, while a further six days were to be spent in the wilderness of Kejimkujik National Park in the south of Nova Scotia.

Group leader John told the Advertiser: "We got to about six weeks of it happening and it just got pulled.

"It started to look unlikely over a matter of weeks then Canada closed its borders.

"As soon as that happened, that was it. It was quite a difficult time for everybody.

"The boys were devastated. They were to meet up with a group of girls from Edinburgh.

"All the young people are just gutted."

With things still so uncertain, John is reluctant to reschedule the trip for any time soon as he doesn't want to lead people up a false path.

Despite a short time to put fundraising drives in place, the boys managed two or three things and raised a four-figure sum.

That money is just sitting in a fund waiting to see what happens, but if the worst happens and the trip can't be rescheduled, it will go towards another group's expedition.

It took John and the boys from March until around November time last year to get their air fares back, which John says was a really hard battle.

Two weeks before everything was cancelled, the boys received a £300 cheque from Alloa Round Table who would not accept the cheque back and told John to spend it an appropriate way with the boys, which he couldn't thank them enough for.

Asked if he's still holding out hope, John replied: "Absolutely. I just sent them an email over New Year saying we'll keep an eye on it and see what happens."