An Aberdeen couple are to take on Africa’s highest peak in aid of a north-east care charity.
Husband and wife team Andy and Sam Maccallum, from Torry, will tackle Kilimanjaro next year to support VSA’s Changing Lives campaign.
The pair decided to take on the challenge in aid of the new Abergeldie mental health unit after their daughter Leah Ritchie’s battles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.
Although they have completed walking challenges before – including the West Highland Way – the couple admitted their latest undertaking is a step up. Sam, 49, said: “It was one of the things on my bucket list to do before turning 50 next year.
“It’s a challenge but it’s really exciting. The first and most important thing is raising money for facilities to help people with mental health issues.
“It’s a big part of our lives. We have been affected because Leah has been affected and it’s something very close to our hearts.”
Andy, 53, added: “I am doing it primarily to support my wife and daughter but I also have colleagues who have been affected.
“It’s not just for one individual person. I do think the problems are much bigger than we realise. Places are going to be inundated with people needing help.”
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Leah, 22, whose issues arose after her twin sons Aron and Eddie – now a year old – were born early, said the Abergeldie Unit would support other people with mental health problems.
She said: “Initially I thought it was the baby blues I was having and it wasn’t until much later I realised something was wrong.
“It can affect anybody at any time. It really made me take a step back when I realised, ‘yes I do have a mental illness’.
“The lack of facilities was a problem. If the Abergeldie Unit had been open I would have been able to go and speak about things.
“Having the facility would have been a massive help.
“It’s so important. For the people who can’t speak out about what’s the matter with them, it’s going to make such a difference.
“I am really proud of them and I’m sure they’ll do great. All my life, mum and dad have helped me.”
Maggie Wilson, chairwoman of VSA’s board of trustees, said: “It’s amazing that people like Sam and Andy want to come and do it with us. I’m really enthusiastic about it.
“It’s great they are joining us for the trek and it will be good to raise funds with them.”