A MAJOR milestone has been reached in the quest to create a massive human chain stretching the length of the Central Belt in a “momentous” display of support for independence, organisers have revealed.

Wilma Bowie, one of the people responsible for organising the Chain of Freedom event, has said a whopping 15,000 people have pledged to join the event when it goes ahead on October 14.

Organisers want a chain of an estimated 77,000 people – around 1% of the total population of Scotland – to line up on the 66 miles of canal paths linking Scotland’s largest city and its capital.

The gesture is inspired by a peaceful demonstration across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1989, close to the collapse of the Soviet Union, when two million people joined hands across 430 miles to protest against the repressive authoritarian state.

Bowie, from Inverness, told The National she expected the day to be “such a momentous spectacle” and that the 15,000 milestone was a conservative figure, because not all organisations involved in organising the event had provided the most up-to-date figures.

She revealed the news at a Yes event on Saturday and urged others in attendance to sign up.

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People from as far afield as France, Sweden, Canada, the US and Australia have pledged to travel to Scotland for the event, she said.

Holywood star Alan Cumming is also expected to be in attendance, as well as author and playwright Alan Bissett.

“The momentum has really been building up in this last week or two,” she said.

But the organisers are facing challenges in raising public awareness of the event, Bowie added.

She said: “It was actually quite staggering the amount of people even within that assembly that hadn’t heard of the Chain of Freedom, namely because we are sort of really limited to where we can advertise.”

Political advertising, outside the narrow confines of party political broadcasts is banned in the UK, meaning the group must rely on word of mouth through Yes groups and the power of social media.

They have also been given a boost by the All Under One Banner marches who have allowed the group to speak at their regular marches in order to drum up support.

Bowie said: “It’s just trying to enthuse people, enthuse the independence movement.

“The admin team, we have the vision, we know what this could look like.”

She added: “We’ve started an initiative that anybody that is an independence supporter and wishes that they could be there but won’t be able to attend, we’ve got an email address that they can contact and we’re going to have a line of Saltires with the names of people that wanted to be represented on the chain, and also for anybody that is no longer with us.”

Despite the logistical challenges Bowie said she believed the group can achieve their goal of a human chain stretching from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

“What we are saying is, if we don’t manage to reach that number [77,000] – which let’s face it, the amount of people that voted for Yes in 2014, there’s no reason we can’t, and the only reason that this will not be a success is down to independence voters who aren’t able or aren’t willing to go and jus stand and be represented for half an hour on the Chain of Freedom.

“But what we’re going to do is fill or expand the numbers that are there, we’re asking people to take a Saltire with them, so if it does work out that we don’t have enough numbers to fill a section, then everybody will be standing with a Saltire between them.”

She added: “We’ve got drones that are coming to film it as well, so visually this could be such a momentous spectacle.”

You can find out more and pledge your support here: https://chainoffreedom.scot/