Climbing mountains for Alzheimer’s Research

A personal appeal from a local author.

By W H Fordham.

Like thousands of people, I have lost a relative to Alzheimer’s.

This is a wicked illness seemingly ‘designed’ by a twisted psychopath to cause as much suffering in the most horrible way – to as many people as possible. The person you love is lost to you long before the end arrives.  All that is left is an empty shell that once contained a proud and dignified loved one. Relatives are forced to witness the agonizing journey towards a living death.

Early stages can be deceptively funny.  Putting the house keys in the fridge and laughing about it.   But then come the 3am wanderings in pyjamas; being bought home by the police. The memory loss is not funny when your own parent doesn’t know who you are. Which of Satan’s devils thought that up?

Then comes the out of character behaviour, as though your loved is possessed by a stranger, altering between, vacancy, demanding, childlike, obnoxious, or even violent. Just to twist the knife comes a glimmer of the loving person you once knew, like the sun coming out for a minute on a rainy day. This only makes you wonder if that person is trapped inside somewhere, like an innocent prisoner in Alcatraz. The Spanish Inquisition would have been proud of that torture.

In 2010 at the decrepit age of 55, I tried to raise a modest £1000 for @ARUKFundraising  by doing the  Welsh 3000s, UK Challenge.

The challenge was to climb 15 Welsh mountains in 24 hours. As I hadn’t been near a mountain in 40 years this was a stupid task to even try. But the memory of a lost relative, the determination to do ‘something’ and a comfortable armchair are great motivators.

Unsurprisingly, I failed. It didn’t help that we started climbing Snowdon, the first and biggest mountain, as it was getting dark.  The experienced climbers went off like mountain goats leaving the novices behind. Have you ever been up a mountain in the dark? It’s like a windowless cellar at midnight. We virtually climbed Snowdon on our knees, groping for each foot and handhold, having no idea where we were or where we were going.  When dawn broke and we looked back on our route, we realised how seriously close we had been to being killed.  Thousand feet drops just a footstep away. But what a dawn. What a view. Everyone should experience the sun coming up on a summer morning in the mountains.  Beauty really is out there.

Eventually, after eight more mountains, I had to quit when time, energy and the will to live ran out. Nine out of fifteen isn’t bad after a 40 year gap, but it meant I only raised £500 – half my target. Ever since, I’ve been thinking of more sedate ways to raise the other £500 without nearly killing myself.

Now, with new technology, I have the opportunity. Readers may be aware of the explosion in e-publishing. With the Amazon Kindle and other e-readers, authors can now publish and sell their work online without using ‘old fashioned’ publishers and printing hard copy books.

I’ve been writing for many years with work in TV, radio, magazines and newspapers around the world. I recently placed a few of my short stories on Amazon for downloading to Kindle.  I soon realised this is the perfect way to raise the ‘missing’ £500. So for 2012,  I am giving 50% of all profits from my short stories to Alzheimer’s Research at    @ARUKFundraising

Some of the stories have won awards on literary websites.  Some have been published successfully already.  Many have gained some very complimentary reviews.    One review on Amazon gave 5 stars and compared me to Dickens! So hopefully, the stories will not only be helping Alzheimer’s Research but also giving pleasure and value for money. They only cost 77p.

If you’ve read this far, I guess you must care about this subject. So please help to get rid of this horrible illness.

If you buy any of my short stories from Amazon half the royalties will go directly to Alzheimers Research.  Alternatively, go direct to: @ARUKFundraising  and donate anything at all.

One final way to help if you are on Twitter, go to:   W.H.Fordham (whfordham) on Twitter  link to me and mention why.  You can include the ARUK link above too.

Together, we can all help just a little, to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.