A BIGGAR actor has successfully taken on a four-day trek of the Sahara desert for Children's Hospices Across Scotland.

Earlier this month, James Mackenzie, formerly of the CBBC cult classic Raven, and currently CBeebies' Molly and Mack and Channel 4's smash-hit Outlander, spent four days in 50 degree heat raising nearly £11,000 for the charity Children's Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS).

Mackenzie completed the task alongside 15 others, including families who have been helped or impacted by the work that CHAS does, as well as a procurator fiscal, bingo callers and gynaecologists.

The total raised by the Sahara Team comes to a massive £60,000 but James's Just Giving page is still open, with a final target of £12,750 still to be reached.

Before his travels to Morocco then to M'hamid, a fundraising quiz was held at the Crown Inn, Biggar, on October 11 where £4,030 was raised.

This expedition was the second of its kind from CHAS who last year organised a trip to the Arctic Circle which raised £45,000 for the charity.

Mackenzie will be well known to many for his leading role as Raven in the CBBC children's gameshow and more recently as Caleb the convict on Outlander. But he's also taken part in the theatre scene in Peebles, having performed on the Eastgate Theatre stage on many occasions.

The CBeebies show Molly and Mack which James also stars in, was recently renewed for a second series.

The 40-year-old actor will begin his run as the villainous puppeteer, Stromboli in the Glasgow Pavillion Theatre's production of Pinocchio beginning yesterday (November 28) and will be performed until Sunday, January 12, 2020.

He told us: “I turned 40 this year and I always wanted to do something physically challenging in aid of a good cause so when I was approached by CHAS to take part in the Sahara challenge I felt very honoured.

“Having lost my mum seven years ago and becoming a father four years ago, my life has changed quite considerably.

“The families who use CHAS services know too well that life is too short, as their children are born with life-shortening conditions meaning they are unlikely to reach adulthood. As a father I can’t even imagine how difficult and unfair that might seem. I wanted to help families make the most of the short time they have together.

“Taking part in the Sahara Trek was just phenomenal, I’ve made so many new friends and it was such an incredible experience.”

He added: "I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far. Their generosity really will help keep the joy alive for so many children with life shortening illnesses and their families."

Challenge Events Manager Scott Maxwell said: “We are so grateful to James and all the other Sahara trekkers for taking on such a brave challenge in aid of CHAS.

"We rely on the generosity of supporters to raise much needed funds to help us with our mission of reaching every single baby, child and young person in Scotland with a life-shortening condition."

Next year, CHAS will venture with another team to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, with details being released soon.

CHAS has launched its appeal for donations in the lead up to Christmas in order to help families and young children with life shortening illnesses to create festive memories for the future.

For information on CHAS, visit https://www.chas.org.uk/ and to donate to James Mackenzie's Just Giving page, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/james-mackenzie18