An Aberdeen man is set to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Alzheimer Scotland in memory of his cousin.
Reece Duncan is planning to make the trip to Tanzania in June next year with his uncle, Lewis Cradock.
The pair will then attempt to climb 5,895m (19,340 feet) to the top of the dormant volcano, which typically takes between five and nine days.
It’s a big challenge, but 23-year-old Reece is motivated by the cause he is raising money for.
“My inspiration for doing this challenge comes from my cousin Craig Scott who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and sadly passed away in 2018,” he said.
“Craig had Down syndrome and really was the life and soul of the party, as you’d say.
“He was a real bubbly character. He loved parties and singing karaoke and had such a fun personality.
“In 2014 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and for a while it was okay.
“But then he took a real turn for the worst… He stopped engaging in activities and couldn’t do any of the things he used to enjoy.
“Even watching the football – he was a massive football fan – wasn’t enjoyable for him anymore, he didn’t know what was happening.”
Reece describes how his family watched as Craig’s condition declined even further until finally, his fun-loving cousin passed away in 2018, aged 52.
During the last year of his life, Craig was living in a care home, but Reece was upset to discover how few facilities exist for people in Craig’s situation.
“Because he was relatively young he had a real difficulty getting into a care home,” Reece said.
“There was only one place in the whole of Aberdeen who could take him, despite the fact he had Down syndrome and severe Alzheimer’s, and even when he was there, there were no facilities for people like him at all.
“So that was my motivation. I really want to raise money to help people like that have specialist centres where they can go and provide them with activities during the day and things they can do.
“I know there have been centres like this, but many of them have closed or merged and the money is just getting cut back and cut back.”
Approximately 50% of people with Down syndrome will develop dementia as they age, meaning that Craig’s position is far from unusual.
“Craig was so loved by the family and he never let his Down syndrome affect him, he always had a smile on his face.
“But come the last couple of years it was so different. It’s like he was here, but he wasn’t here at the same time, which is what the Alzheimer’s did to him.”
Reece has a target of raising £5,000 before he sets off next year, and he’s already well on the way to reaching it with £1,000 raised by his GoFundMe page and another £1,000 from a raffle he organised locally.
Fundraising during lockdown has been difficult, but the generosity of the public has impressed Reece.
“I’m amazed at how much I’ve managed to raise so far,” he said, “I’m nearly halfway to my target already.
“We decided to wait until next year to make the trip because hopefully by that time Africa will be more advanced with its Covid vaccine rollout.
“But it also gives us more time to raise money and I hope to do more in-person fundraising as soon as restrictions allow.”
Sarah Cheung, Stakeholder Engagement Lead at Alzheimer Scotland said: ‘Reece has set himself the challenge of a lifetime to raise money for Alzheimer Scotland and we are so grateful.
“The last year has been difficult for charities as the need for our support has been greater than ever, but most of our usual ways of generating income have been disrupted.
“Despite this, supporters like Reece have continued to set themselves incredible challenges to help us make sure nobody faces dementia alone. We are very proud of Reece, who is honouring his cousin in a wonderful way and wish him the best of luck.”
To donate to Reece’s challenge, visit