Former firefighter takes on Scafell Pike following Parkinson’s diagnosis

In the UK, around 145,000 people are already living with Parkinson’s, and every hour two more people are diagnosed.

A retired firefighter who served for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service will be climbing 978 metres to raise money for Parkinson’s UK and The Fire Fighters Charity.

Alan Simcox attempted to climb Scafell Pike 25 years ago but was unable to complete due to an injury that he sustained. However, following his diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease in February, Alan has now teamed up with his two sons and 11 former colleagues (including some of the original team) to take on the challenge again.

The group will be setting off on Saturday (22 July) and are due to complete the trek later that night.

Alan joined Bognor Fire Station as a firefighter in September 1992, a role in which he served his entire career before retiring on 31 March 2022.

Speaking of the challenge, Alan said: “I’m really looking forward to taking on the challenge again, it’s always bugged me that I never completed it the first-time round, so hopefully this will be the second time lucky.

“When I received my diagnosis, it was a complete shock. My wife, Kendal, first noticed the symptoms; we do a lot of walking and she noticed that my arms weren’t swinging. I then noticed that I was struggling to quickly get changed into my fire kit when attending emergencies, but in hindsight I was in denial as I didn’t want it to be real.

“After my diagnosis my wife and I decided that we have two options: to be depressed or positive, and we have chosen positivity. Although it’s hard, getting the diagnosis was a relief as I now have answers and support mechanisms in place to help. Though, the biggest support mechanism I have is my wife – Parkinson’s doesn’t just affect me, it affects her too and despite this she has been my rock, offering support and putting plans in place to make things easier.

“I would also like to thank my best friend, Gary Winter, for all he’s done to make the challenge happen. We served together at Bognor for a long time, and he can see how anxiety is now a huge part of my life. With that in mind, he has organised the whole trip for me, and I can’t thank him enough for that.

“And lastly, to everyone who has donated – your generosity really will help change people’s lives – thank you.”

Representatives from Parkinson’s UK will also be attending Bognor Fire Station’s open day on 29 July to help raise awareness of the disease.