East Dunbartonshire dad tackles obstacles for Parkinson’s

In the frame...Neil with his wife Clair and children Abbie and Logan after one of the many events he has signed up for this year.
In the frame...Neil with his wife Clair and children Abbie and Logan after one of the many events he has signed up for this year.

Neil Wightman has set himself a colossal challenge this year to help a cause close to his heart.

Two years ago, the East Dunbartonshire man’s dad Bert was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Made of tough stuff...Neil Wightman will be donning his kilt to take on 17 of the UK's toughest obstacle courses in a bid to find a cure for Parkinson's Disease.

Made of tough stuff...Neil Wightman will be donning his kilt to take on 17 of the UK's toughest obstacle courses in a bid to find a cure for Parkinson's Disease.

In the bid to find a cure, Neil is taking on no less than 17 of the toughest obstacle courses in the UK over the next 12 months to raise money for research.

In all, the Kirkintilloch man’s epic feat will cover 275km (170 miles) of muddy terrain.

As if that’s not enough, he will be tackling them all wearing a kilt to “make things a bit more interesting”.

All the donations from his nine Tough Mudders, two MacTuff’s, two Tartan Warriors, one Badass Mucker, Winter Wolf Run, Great Glencoe Challenge and Cumbernauld 10k will go towards Parkinson’s UK. Neil’s also thrown in a fun Santa Dash at Christmas for good measure!

The MacTuff has been described as Scotland’s toughest obstacle course – 22km of challenging terrain, through mud, water and obstacles built to test strength and mental grit.

Neil has been involved in fundraising for a number of charities for some years now.

But this year, he decided with the help and support of family and friends to go all out for Parkinson’s research.

Neil told the Herald: “I love doing obstacle course races – the dirtier, the better!

“We are so lucky that there are loads to choose from around the UK. My wife Clair, daughter Abbie and son Logan are also joining in at some of the events so it’s a real family affair.”

Neil will be joined by Clair on his Glencoe Challenge, a 26- mile walk through Scottish mountains.

Clair and their young kids Abbie and Logan also took part in a recent sponsored walk for Parkinson’s at Pollock Park in Glasgow.

Neil said: “Abbie did great and walked the whole five miles while Logan walked a little bit and peddled the rest on his trike.

“Parkinson’s UK does lots of great work to support people like my dad and I’m delighted to be able to do something to help.”

Neil’s dad Bert worked in the railway for 42 years, latterly as the area signalling and telecommunications engineer for Scotland East. Since retiring, he is a dedicated volunteer with the local Talking Newspaper.

Neil followed in his father’s footsteps and is now a track quality supervisor with Network Rail.

He said: “I’m just halfway through my programme of events and I’m delighted to have passed my original target of £1000, raising £1175 so far – all thanks to the support of family, friends and complete strangers who have been so generous.

“I may still add some more events in.

“And, just to make things a little bit more interesting, I am doing all of them wearing a kilt, which usually doubles in weight once it’s wet and covered in mud!”

“All of the obstacle courses are between three and 12 miles, depending on the event, of mud, sweat and possibly tears with plunges into ice cold water, hills, more mud, plenty of things to climb over, under and through, more mud, tyres to flip and weights to carry.

“All of this will mean I will be covering almost 275km (170 miles) with the aim of raising as much money for Parkinson’s as possible.”

Jan Mattison, west Scotland regional fundraiser for Parkinson’s UK, said: “We’d like to say thanks to Neil for taking on this tough year of challenges.

“His endeavours will help the charity provide high quality local services and support our world-leading scientific research to find better treatments and a cure for Parkinson’s.

“It’s only through the support of people like Neil that we can provide vital services.

“The charity really appreciates his efforts.”

Every week 30 people in Scotland are told they have Parkinson’s.

It affects more than 12,000 people across the country, around one in every 375 adults.

Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological condition, for which there currently is no cure.

The main symptoms of the condition are tremors, slowness of movement and rigidity.

Parkinson’s UK is the UK’s leading charity supporting those with the condition.

Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson’s through cutting-edge research, information, support and campaigning.

For advice, information and support, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk or call the free, confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303.

You can catch up with Neil’s progress and support him at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/neil-wightman.