Neil’s Story

This is why Neil took part in Scotland's Virtual Kiltwalk for Oxygen Works...

My team, Macleod Tri-climb, and I took part in Scotland’s Virtual Kiltwalk and fundraised a total of £3,465 for Oxygen Works, Inverness. That was £2,310 amount raised by us and £1,155 topped up by Sir Tom Hunter.

The Oxygen Works is a registered charity who offer practical, emotional and social support to individuals living with long term health conditions such as MS, Fibromyalgia, Cancer and Parkinsons. They have provided support for over 25 years to people living with complex health conditions. Clients travel from all across the North of Scotland for the unique range of services and therapies.

I was diagnosed with MS on 5th May, 2004 following a major relapse and it was a life changing event. Recovery to a stable condition took many months, even years as relapses were more common then. I was no longer able to work, I had been a welder involved in the oil industry in Scotland, as my eyesight had been affected as well as my mobility.

I have trialled many new treatments over the years, not always successfully, and following a malignant melanoma in 2015, I am now restricted to treatments which don't compromise my immune system. I am presently taking Aubagio which works by preventing relapses, it doesn't help with the symptoms but preventing relapses is vital as each one takes something away from my independence.

My MS journey has been a long, often painful one. It has caused much unhappiness through lifestyle changes, loss of employment, loss of family life, periods of depression but there has also been times of great joy mainly associated with my beloved daughter Lauren. She has been my guiding light throughout and she has got me through my darkest days. She is now a beautiful 15 year old young lady and she is still my pride and joy.

I have the best friends anyone could ask for and they are a constant source of support and fun, and I try to keep them all entertained on social media, especially throughout the pandemic which has been such an isolating time for so many of us.

I spend a lot of my time cycling which may sound odd for a person with MS, but on days when I can't walk, I can still cycle. It probably helps that it is an electric bike but nevertheless, it gets me out in the fresh air and it is exercise.

When I first discovered the Oxygen Works I couldn't believe what a boost to the system it was and after a few sessions the benefits continued over several weeks. All the people involved are so friendly, especially Leigh Ann and Beth. It's such a warm, caring environment and a chance to meet other people with similar conditions. Family and carers are also made welcome and apart from the massive benefits to my health, it is a lovely place to visit, although we all look very strange in the oxygen chamber with our masks on!

My Virtual Kiltwalk Challenge

Our team of five, myself, Zander Laird, Peter Annal, Robert (Rab) Laird and former Royal Marine, Kevin Black, climbed to the top of Fyrish. I had back-up assistance on hand just in case I needed to get off the hill in the form of my carer/personal assistant Anne Buchan - thankfully I didn’t need to though! It was really tough but we did it!

Fyrish is a local hill standing at 1,475 ft with 3 stone monuments at the summit. Sir Hector Munro, the Laird at the time, kept his men in employment during the potato famine by having them build a replica of the gates of Negapatam, where he had been stationed as Commander of the British Forces in India.

It was exhausting and to be honest, I am still recovering but it was also one of the most rewarding things I have done and to have some of my best friends supporting me was fantastic.

The day was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky and the craic was great!

I’m so proud that all five of us managed to complete the challenge especially as it was for such a good cause and also helped to raise awareness of multiple sclerosis.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my younger brother David. His support through my whole MS journey has been amazing. He may be my younger brother but at times he really turned into my big brother who I looked up to for support and love. He has always been there for me in good times and bad and for that I am eternally grateful.

Finally to my Mum. I can not put into words how much she means to me and the absolutely outstanding support she has given me from day one of my diagnosis. When things got really bad she could have easily turned her back on me but she stuck with me and powered through. She never gave up on me and her help has been life rewarding as without her I would definitely not be here today. I love her so much!


Thank you for your Kiltwalk Kindness.

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