A KIRKCALDY man has proved to be an inspiration to others after taking on the mountains of Peru to raise over £6000 for research into Parkinson’s - after being diagnosed with the disease.
Ken Fenton (65) travelled to South America, enduring an 11-hour flight, to spend four days walking at an altitute of 14,000 feet.
This would be a difficult feat for anyone to tackle but it is made even more remarkable by the fact that Ken was the only member of the 22-strong group with Parkinson’s.
He said the whole trip for Parkinson’s UK took 11 days: “It was a very long flight and that was a challenge in itself!,” he said. “The altitude sickness was a big issue for anyone there and it does take your breath away. I was ok once I got going, my body got used to it. I did a lot of training at the gym before I went which strengthens your heart and lungs.
“I used two walking poles to help my balance but I had a guide who shadowed me while we were trekking in the hills because of my disease. He also carried my water container for me. I am very independent so he stayed behind me all the time.
“I wanted to do it for myself and I don’t give up. My guide actually said to me that in 12 years of guiding he had only ever met one other man who was as mentally strong as me.”
He continued: “The scenery was beautiful, it was like Scotland but a million times the magnitude.”
Ken, who runs his own food company, Wild Tastes, faced other challenges, including camping and tackling steep gradients, but said the group was extremely supportive: “We were all strangers and yet we all bonded so well, everyone was so kind and considerate. It was incredible team work and I would go anywhere in the world with these people. I didn’t think I was anything different but they all said I was an inspiration to them.
“It was character building, there were physical and mental challenges, it developed your interpersonal skills and your caring skills.”
He added: “We each had a target of £3,300 to raise and I have doubled that to £6,600 and I still have money coming in. I wanted to do this because I never knew anything about Parkinson’s until I was diagnosed. It is such a horrible disease so anything I can do to help fund research into Parkinson’s I will do it. It’s also about raising awareness of the condition. The trip was an amazing experience.”