STOP PRESS - We are delighted to report that Dora and Kenny Ferguson have won the Fundraiser of the Year Award for 2016.
On 1st January 2014, Kenny Ferguson suffered a traumatic brain injury. Though originally from Scotland, Kenny was at the time living and working in Southampton, and was taken to the Wessex Neurological Centre at Southampton General Hospital. It was here that he received life saving surgery and was looked after in the early weeks following his TBI. Although he has since made remarkable progress on the road to recovery, he's been left with a dropped foot, little movement in his right arm and aphasia which has affected his speech.
Since his accident, his sisters, Dora, Georgia and Lisa, his father, Ken, and various family friends have undertaken several walking/climbing challenges to raise funds for Smile4Wessex. Kenny, determined not to let his brain injury get in the way, was keen to achieve his long-standing ambition to walk the West Highland Way, and to also use the opportunity to give something back to the Wessex.
So it was that on Sunday 24th July, Kenny and Dora set off to walk the 96-mile route from Milngavie (just north of Glasgow) to Fort William. What lay ahead would test them both more than they ever imagined, but is testament to their strength of will, mutual support and an utter determination to complete the challenge. We'll let Dora take up the story from here....
"Day 1 was fairly easy for both of us, and we had a lovely wee send off from our Dad, one of our sisters and some of the boys from BIA (Brothers in Arms). Kenny was in a lot of pain from day 2 onwards but was so determined to complete his challenge. We didn't think things could get any worse after we'd tackled Conic Hill (Day 2) but Day 3 ended up being much worse! This was because of the rocky terrain along the shore of Loch Lomond. Kenny needed assistance ascending and descending the rocky steps, of which there were many! Both these days took us 11 hours each from start to finish.
"Day 4 wasn't too bad except that I had it in my head we were only doing 9 miles that day when it was in fact 12. It was a bit hilly and every time we approached a hill or some steps to climb Kenny would wearily say "what goes up must come down". It was descending hills or stairs that caused the biggest problems. Walking on the flat was painful but manageable for him. He had to take painkillers everyday. A visit from old school pal, Hutch, later on that night helped to cheer him. Day 5 was the furthest distance we had to walk in one day - 20 miles. Kenny repeatedly complained that he was struggling but he continued to put one foot in front of the other until we reached our destination.
"On Day 6 we celebrated his 40th birthday by taking on Devils Staircase. We still reckon that Loch Lomond was the worst part for us though. Our Mum & Stepdad showed up at our accommodation to surprise Kenny with a wee visit that afternoon which was lovely. At the end of Day 7, they were there to meet us at the finish line. Several others that we had met along the way also waited there to congratulate us on our achievement. Mum very kindly presented us both with medals which said "I've walked the West Highland Way". Kenny said throughout the week "never, ever again!"...and who could blame him. As for me....well, we'll see what happens."
Whilst the pictures here may convey some of the beauty of the lanscape they encountered en route, they cannot illustrate the true magnitude of the task Kenny and Dora undertook, nor the pain endured in completing the challenge. We're sure you will agree, however, that they should be hugely proud of their achievement - and not just the physical one as they've also smashed their £1,000 fundraising target (total raised at time of writing is £1,400).
Our sincere thanks go to Kenny, Dora and all who have so generously supported their efforts.