We continue to be amazed by the dedication and generosity of superstar fundraiser, Ross McNamee, who has taken on the West Highland Way for the second year running in support of Alzheimer Scotland. Since 2018, Ross has raised over £100,000 for Alzheimer Scotland which is incredible and we commend all his fundraising efforts for the charity to date. We look forward to seeing Ross’s fundraising efforts in 2023!
When Ross was 12 years old he first starting spotting signs that something was up with his mum, Angie. It was little things at first, like finding things in peculiar places. Ross recalls, “The first time I noticed it was when I was in a motor and she completely forgot where to go. My dad noticed a lot more before me. She was greeting because she knew what was going on but I was still none the wiser.”
Angie was diagnosed with vascular dementia and young onset Alzheimer’s Disease when she was just 40. Despite only being a young teenager, Ross adjusted in order to care for his mother during a difficult and uncertain time. On what he would say to others in a similar situation he said “Best advice I could give somebody is no matter how hard you think it is for you, it’s ten times harder for them going through it. Thinking about that when she was repeating herself and finding things in difference places I would say give yourself ten seconds to react. If you need to repeat yourself, what does that matter to you? As long as it’s helping her.”
Ross's first experience of fundraising came when he saw a Facebook ad for Scotland’s Memory Walk. After taking part two years in a row, he decided to kick things up a gear and organised a trek up Ben Nevis with a group of friends. The response from the community was incredible. On the day of Ross’s climb messages of support poured in from friends and family, but also strangers on social media who had read his story; many who share a similar experience of a loved one living with dementia. Ross was overwhelmed by the response:
“It was more than I ever imagined so there was a lot of mixed emotions as I couldn’t have been happier with what me and my friends achieved but at the same time, I was a bit emotional.”
Ross says ‘I would like to give the troops a special mention as the support they give me throughout this not even with just my fundraising with just being there for me all the time is unheard of, I don’t think they actually know how much they help me get through life. In terms of fundraising, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without them every single one of them are amazing, they truly are the best friends someone like me could ever ask for and I will be forever grateful for single thing they all do for me. The laugh we get and the effort we all put in shows with the numbers we are bringing in year after year and long may it continue
But Ross wasn’t finished, going on to take on the West Highland Way twice in 2021 and 2022 and adding on the Buchaille Etive Mòr for good measure. This is alongside planning and hosting fundraising events including a charity Celtic vs Rangers football match. As always Ross has had incredible support from his friends, family and the wider community inspired by his story. In total Ross has raised a truly phenomenal £100,000 and counting! That’s enough to provide 2 Dementia Advisors for a year to support people with dementia, their partners, families and carers, along with local businesses and the community.
Ross told us, “Anyone who knows me knows how close I was to my mum and how much of a character she was. She would make everyone laugh and smile wherever she went, she really was one of a kind and had so much more life to give.
At times when caring for my mum with Alzheimer’s I’ve felt helpless because there is genuinely nothing you can do except to make life as comfortable as possible. Doing something like this makes you feel you’re giving something back, and you get a bit of comfort from it.”
Every year, people across Scotland who have gone above and beyond are recognised on the BBC Scotland’s People 2022 which is aired around the festive season. Alzheimer Scotland were lucky enough to have Ross’s fundraising efforts throughout the years acknowledged on this programme which included completing the West Highland Way in dedication to his mum Angie. Ross explains how he feels about being recognised on BBC Scotland’s People 2022:
“This is something I’m absolutely buzzing with as it shows people are taking notice of the hard work we have put in over the years, of course this isn’t only for me it’s for all the troops as well as they’ve walked every step of the way with me and couldn’t have done half of this without them 💜”
“I’m really pleased to receive this shout out as it means people are starting to take notice of the hard work put in over the years. Hopefully receiving this recognition will put us out there a bit more and help us as we continue our fundraising in 2023". You can watch Ross below on the BBC Scotland's People: