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Daughter braves charity challenge for stroke survivor dad

Kirsty Mack, from Bridge of Allan, conquered Europe’s highest mountain, Mount Elbrus, for the second time in her life last week. But this time she climbed it from inside her home, as part of our lockdown-friendly Step Up Challenge.

When Kirsty heard that we were struggling to raise funds during the coronavirus outbreak, she decided to get involved and help make sure we’re still here to support stroke survivors, like her dad, Tom Mack.

In June last year, Kirsty travelled to Russia and scaled the dormant volcano, climbing the 5,642 metres to the top, 25 years after her Dad had reached the summit.

It was something she had always dreamed of doing. Kirsty’s love of the outdoors, and in particular hill climbing, was passed down to her from her Dad. He was the local Group Scout Leader in Menstrie, later receiving an MBE for his service, and so from as young as 6 months old, Kirsty was included in many of the Scouts activities.

Step Up Challenge Kirsty with her dad

Kirsty with her dad on a family hillwalk when she was young.

A heart-breaking decision

However, her climb to the summit was a bittersweet triumph for Kirsty. Two weeks before she was due to leave, her beloved Dad suffered a serious stroke. He was completely paralysed down his right side and couldn’t speak.

“The first 48 hours after my Dad had his stroke were truly horrendous. I refused to leave his side and slept on the floor next to his hospital bed, counting every breath,” explains Kirsty.

I knew that the mountain I was climbing was nothing in comparison to the mountain of recovery Dad was about to embark upon.

“Deciding to go on the trip whilst Dad’s future was still so uncertain was incredibly difficult, but I knew deep down he would have wanted me to go.

“I took one of my favourite photos of him with me and carried it in my pocket for the entire trip. It gave me strength and courage on the difficult days of the climb. But on those days, I knew that the mountain I was climbing was nothing in comparison to the mountain of recovery Dad was about to embark upon.”

Kirsty made the incredibly difficult decision to go on the trip, but decided to do the climb in aid of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland. Her Dad had been so excited for her to follow in his footsteps and conquer the peak.

“I decided to raise money during the trip for Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland because suddenly this charity was so important to our family.  If raising money helped raise awareness around stroke symptoms, if one person had a better outcome because a stroke was identified earlier, then it was worth it,” she adds.

Tackling the Step Up Challenge

One year on from her dad’s stroke – and from successfully completing her climb of Mount Elbrus – Kirsty decided it was time to tackle to mountain for the second time, all from her own home.

“It takes a village, a massive village, to rehabilitate a person after a stroke. I’ll always be grateful to everyone,” says Kirsty.

“Dad was a very selfless person, almost every action he did was to benefit someone else. Now that Dad is having to accept others caring for him, I wanted, in my own small way, to do something to benefit others in his situation.”

After a very difficult year for her family, who are currently unable to visit their dad in his care home due to coronavirus, this virtual Step Up Challenge seemed like the perfect way to do something positive and to help other families.

Step Up Challenge Kirsty training to be a Stay at Home Hero

Kirsty trains for her Step Up Challenge during lockdown, with her dad providing plenty of inspiration.

“My dad has always been my biggest hero; I couldn’t imagine having a better father for me and my sister, Lynzie,” adds Kirsty.

“He is the most kind, caring and generous person and I am so lucky to be his daughter.

“It’s incredibly important to me that he not be labelled merely as a stroke victim, nor as a patient, nor care home resident; he is a Pharmacist, a successful businessman, a Scout Leader, an ex-Scotland football internationalist, a mountaineer, a husband, and he’s my Dad.”

Stay at Home Hero

Kirsty’s at-home fundraising comes with an important message. Because of coronavirus, money for our services is running out, just when people need our help most. But people like Kirsty are changing that.

Support from our ‘Stay at Home Heroes’ will ensure we can be there for other families affected by stroke, now and in the future.

“I truly hate everything about strokes,” explains Kirsty. “I hate how indiscriminately and abruptly they can strike.

“That in just one moment, everything changes forever. I hate how it permanently took my Dad from our family home, from our dinner table, from his favourite chair, from our late-night chats and from being just a call away.

“I hate how it threw him in to an environment that was clinical, unfamiliar and I’m sure quite frightening.”

But thanks to Kirsty’s amazing fundraising efforts people like her dad won’t have to fight coronavirus alone.

If you’d like to be a Stay at Home Hero like Kirsty, there are loads of fundraising ideas you can do in your home to help save our essential services. You can sign-up by visiting:


People are leaving hospital feeling scared and alone. You can change that.

Your donation can help people do more than just survive – you can help them really live.


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