Dave Ramsay, 57, from Cupar in Fife, is on a mission to raise funds for a dementia assistance dog in memory of his late wife, Marcia, who was “dog daft”. Marcia worked for Alzheimer Scotland for many years and was particularly passionate about the Dementia Dog project.
"When Marcia passed away in 2021, I was devasted - she was everything to me. Such a kind and caring person, so passionate about helping other people – she was always putting others before herself. It made sense that she trained as a nurse, it fitted with her constant desire to help people. When her career moved in a different direction and into new roles with various charitable organisations, she took the great attributes of compassion and empathy with her. Then she became Operations Director for Alzheimer Scotland and she found her ‘raison d’etre’.
Right from the start, was determined to help those living with dementia and make a positive impact on their lives. When she learned about the Dementia Dog Project, it just ticked every box. This inspirational project is a collaboration between Alzheimer Scotland and Dogs for Good, providing highly trained dogs to help their families with a range of skills, such as fetching medication pouches or reminding owners to complete routine daily tasks. Marcia loved the notion of these dogs living at home full time, as a constant and loving companion to their families. She was a real advocate for the power of animal-assisted therapy and the idea that these dogs can enable their owners to live with more confidence and independence, just filled her with joy.
Marcia was so passionate about enabling those who live with dementia to get out and about, to make the most of life. So, she was blown away by the concept of dementia dogs – not only by the dog’s abilities to help their owners physically but also how they serve as a connection to their community. Unlike pet dogs, assistance dogs have full public access rights, allowing them to provide reassurance and support in busy, unfamiliar environments which I think is incredible.
Marcia might not be here today to champion the benefits of these incredibly clever creatures – but I am. And I’m determined to be her voice, to get out there and raise money for a cause she took so much interest and pleasure in. My target is to raise £21,000, the amount needed to train a puppy to the point they can be placed with a family. So far, I’ve reached £14,000 through other activities such as an epic mountain-biking trek through the French Alps. I’m now moving onto a whole new level! One that I really hope will help me smash my target.
I’m about to embark on a fundraising trip of my lifetime – motorbiking more than 11,000 miles along the Trans Euro trail from Spain to Georgia. It’ll be a two-month long trek, on a route filled with off-road tracks and high mountain passes. If Marcia was here, she’d likely tell me I'm daft. But I really can’t think of a better way to honour my beautiful and supportive wife.
It'll be tough, no doubt! I’m a seasoned biker though, having already done three tours of Europe on road bikes with my friend, Matt, who’ll be my companion and co-fundraiser on this trip. As we prepare to set off, collecting our bikes from Spain first, I don’t really feel nervous….except maybe about the prospect of Matt barking in my ear for weeks! It’s certainly an intense experience taking on something like this but one I’ll do gladly if it means a new Dementia dog will arrive in Scotland. Marcia would be over-the-moon at that prospect so it’s all for her, really. And for the people she worked so hard to support.
2023 marks the 10th anniversary of the Dementia Dog project and so far, 11 life-changing dogs have been placed in Scottish homes. I’m going to give my all to this challenge to make sure that this year, we see dog number 12 meeting another lucky family.
We’ll be trying to boost our funds by fundraising along the way, too. You can challenge us and, if we accept, we’ll post it on our social media and YouTube channel, Stinky Boots. We’re going to document our trip online too so if you’re interested in following along and supporting us, give us a ‘like’ and subscribe!
It’s going to be the ride of our lives – it’ll be full of challenges and I’m sure we’ll have our share of ups and downs. I suppose that’s inevitable on a trip like this but we’ll keep going, full throttle, to raise money for this amazing cause".
Visit Dave's Just Giving page here.