Edinburgh pensioner hikes to Everest to honour late wife and raise cash for kids

Pensioner Alan Sinclair has turned back the years after lacing up his trusty hiking boots to become one of the oldest people to take on Mount Everest as part of an expedition to raise money for children’s charity, Harmeny.

Thursday, 18th July 2019, 9:03 am
Alan Sinclair, with a photo of his wife, at Everest base camp

Alan, 73, was part of a team that trekked 130km to the 17,000ft Everest base camp in Nepal.

The retired finance director and his fellow climbers raised £35,000 for Balerno-based Harmeny Education Trust, an education and care centre, housing some of Scotland’s most vulnerable children.

Superfit Alan, who has run several marathons and cycled 2000 miles for other charities, decided to make the trip after learning about Harmeny’s plan to expand its services and provide a new learning hub.

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Edinburgh pensioner Alan Sinclair has become one of the oldest people to take on Mount Everest as part of an expedition to raise money for charity. Picture: Contributed

So far, the Harmeny Learning for Life Appeal has already funded the refurbishment and extension of two cottages providing improved space for children to live and relax.

The appeal is now nearly a third of the way towards the £1.9 million target to help more vulnerable young people in Edinburgh.

Alan, who lives in the city, said it was a dream of his late wife Deirdre, who died in May 2017 after developing a rare form of leukaemia, to scale the foothills of the Himalayas and he made the three-week trip to honour her memory.

He was joined on the trek by his judo instructor neighbour Marc Preston, Rick Young, an age-group world champion at Brazilian Ju Jitsu and Edinburgh-based builder and adventurer Bruce Collie.

Alan was inspired by the way Harmeny staff support five to 14-year-olds who have experienced significant early years trauma to learn how to be children again and to trust adults and each other.

He said: “We did what these children do every day in facing up to challenges, being pushed out of our comfort zones and aiming high. The distance to base camp and back is around 130km but the trail climbs and falls very steeply almost the whole way and you crisscross the Dud Khosi river on suspension bridges with drops of up to 700ft to the riverbed.

“The biggest challenge was climbing from 8am until 6pm, with just an hour break for lunch. We had elected to sleep at night in one-man, bivouac tents as this reduces the risk of infection and made the trip more challenging with the aim of raising more money.”

Harmeny chief executive, Neil Squires said: “We can’t thank Alan and his fellow adventurers enough. Taking on Everest at the age of 73 shows remarkable bravery and determination.”