Tragedy leads Simon to Kilimanjaro trek

Simon, pictured above with his late father, Howard Birkby, whom he is fundraising in memory of.
Simon, pictured above with his late father, Howard Birkby, whom he is fundraising in memory of.

And Ellon man is set for the trip of a lifetime as he makes the trek up Mount Kilimanjaro in memory of his late father who died from cancer.

Simon Birkby of the town’s Knockothie Road is undertaking the challenge as a charity fundraiser for Cancer Research UK in the hope that some day a cure can be found for the disease.

Simon said: “On March 30 last year I lost my dad Howard Birkby to cancer. From diagnosis to his death was an all too brief period of some 13-14 months.

“He progressed from an initial expectation of treatment of an ocular melanoma, to this rapidly becoming a removal of his right eye, through unsuccessful immunotherapy treatment, and then to a seemingly unbelievably quick confirmation that there was to be no successful treatment at all.

“Cancer is horrible in any form and I would not wish the awful sentence that the last year and some has been on anyone. I am so proud of him for how he dealt with it.

“There was nothing any of us could do for my Dad, and we can only be grateful that this didn’t impact on his life until later, when he had at least seen his two children grow up, marry, and had met all four grandchildren; sad though it is for me that he never heard my youngest James’ voice or saw him walk properly. Most of all, he had the support of his wonderful wife, our Mum, until the very end.

“However, we are grateful for all of the support that we received from family and friends, and also the supporting services.”

So, Simon has now decided to try and give something back.

He remarked: “Well, to be honest, it’s a sign of respect for my Dad and. Sometimes you just have to step out of your comfort zone to prove that there is more to life.

“Dad loved hill-walking and particularly in the Lake District near his home town so I thought something related would be a fitting tribute and hopefully raise some money.

I’ve decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and hopefully contribute to the war on cancer.

I’m well aware that this isn’t going to be a Sunday morning stroll - Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895 metres (19,341 ft), Everest is less than 3,000 metres higher and there is not much oxygen at the top - it’s going to be tough and many people have to give up, but I’m determined to give it a go.

Simon’s JustGiving page can be found at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/simon-birkby-dad