Mount Fuji climb to spare other families from the heartbreak of dementia

10 October 2017

Investing in dementia research is ‘worth every single penny’, according to a Bearsden resident who in September climbed Mount Fuji in aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK – after seeing his mother’s devastating battle with the condition.

Team photo leaving the UK

Ken Wright, 47, Head of Broker Development at AXA Insurance, was joined by his brother Gary Wright, and two lifelong friends Dave Fisher and James Gupwell, on the gruelling fundraiser which saw them climb 12,390ft and down in 24 hours. The group decided to take on the iconic Japanese mountain a year ago, after reminiscing about their past exploits and wanting to set themselves a new challenge to achieve in the future.

Not only was the fundraiser physically challenging, they were also faced with altitude sickness and varying weather conditions. Despite this, they conquered the mountain and reached the top in time to see the sunrise – where they then called their loved ones back home.

The team celebrating their achievement

Thanks to their efforts, the group raised more over £7,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK, which is the charity partner of AXA Insurance. So far, the company has raised more than £280,000 for the charity, which invests in pioneering research to defeat dementia and works to improve public understanding about the condition. Alzheimer’s Research UK’s mission is to bring about the first life-changing dementia treatment by 2025.

Ken is a keen supporter of the cause because his mother is currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. As her condition has become worse, he has lost more and more of her.

Ken Wright with his Mum

Ken, a father-of-two, said:

“It’s heartbreaking for the friends and families of people with dementia. The worst part is how gradual it is and how you see that person you know and love slowly deteriorate. When we visit with the kids sometimes my Mum doesn’t always know who they are or even remember their names, whilst at other times she can recall events with absolute clarity from years ago. In all honesty I know it’s probably too late for my Mum now in terms of reversing the impact of this terrible condition, but it’s vital that we do what we can to spare other families from the devastation dementia brings. Research not only has the potential to slow down the deterioration of dementia, but hopefully it will also bring about a cure – so it’s worth every single penny raised.”

Speaking about the fundraiser, he added:

“What an experience! There is no country in the world like Japan, so it was fantastic being able to explore it. With a combined group age of 186 the climb itself was both physically and emotionally challenging, but we loved every step. We climbed up to 10,000ft on the first day and then left at 2am the next morning so we could see the sunrise at 5am. When we got to the summit, we all felt elated, it was spectacular. The fact we’ve raised so much for Alzheimer’s Research UK makes it even better. We are all humbled by the support and best wishes from our families, friends and colleagues in supporting our adventure.”

Felicity James, Corporate Partnerships Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“There are too many families like Ken’s, who are being torn apart by the devastation caused by dementia. The only chance we have of stopping this heartache is by investing in research and finding a cure for dementia. It’s thanks to people like Ken and his fellow climbers, and companies like AXA Insurance, that Alzheimer’s Research UK is able to invest in the very best research which will get us that desperately-needed result. The Mount Fuji climb fundraiser was definitely a challenge, so we’re glad their group gained so much satisfaction from their achievement. We’re incredibly grateful for all their efforts.”