A TENNIS fan has embarked on an excellent fundraiser in memory of his brother.
Stuart Falconer is aiming to play 40 tennis matches over four days at 40 clubs between East Lothian and Orkney.
He has already surpassed his £1,500 fundraising target for MND Scotland before declaring ‘game, set and match’ on Sunday.
Stuart’s brother Richard died of motor neurone disease (MND) in March, becoming the second family member to have his life cut short by the disease, with Stuart also losing his cousin Brian in 2017.
Already Stuart, from Pencaitland, has served at Haddington, Gullane, Longniddry and Musselburgh before heading north for the 400-mile road trip.
He said: “Tennis has always been my favorite pastime ever since I started playing aged ten, so when I thought about how I could raise money for MND Scotland, it made sense to try to accommodate that.
“Although Richard wasn’t much of a tennis fan, in recent years he had started enjoying a social game of ‘Touch Tennis’ with friends at his local sports center, so that was another connection with tennis.”
The competitions will be held over three sets under the Fast4 format where the winner is the first to four games in each set.
The final match will take place in Orkney, where Richard had called home since 1995.
Stuart said: “I knew that to raise funds it had to be a challenge that would get people’s attention and given that we’ve just exceeded my initial fundraising goal I think the idea of playing 40 matches in four days managed to do so.
“The tennis community is very friendly, and I’ve had people from other clubs who have been affected by motor neuron disease showing their support for my challenge and offering to help me in any way they can.”
MND is a terminal disease with rapid progression, which prevents signals from the brain from reaching the muscles.
Richard first experienced symptoms of Motor Neuron Disease (MND) when he started to feel short of breath and soon after also started feeling a loss of strength in his hands.
In August 2020, Richard was diagnosed with MND, having retired at the age of 64.
As the disease progressed, Richard’s strength continued to deteriorate, with his regular walks with his dog and his cycles becoming shorter, before stopping altogether.
Stuart said: “Richard had just retired and was supposed to start a new chapter in his life, spending his time doing the things he loved.
“Although he only lost his ability to communicate towards the very end, he was a very practical person who loved being outdoors and seeing MND rob him of his independence was very difficult.
“I have to admit that before Brian was diagnosed with MND in 2017, I knew very little about the disease and although they shared the same diagnosis, my cousin Brian and Richard’s experiences were both very different. .
“We are a very close family and having two people diagnosed with MND has been devastating.
“Richard had no children of his own, but he was the favorite uncle of all his nieces and nephews, who all loved to visit him at his home in Orkney.”
Rachel Maitland, CEO of MND Scotland, wished Stuart well.
She said: “I am always inspired by the creative challenges people take on to raise money for MND Scotland and want to thank Stuart for undertaking this unique feat.
“It is only because of people like Stuart that we are able to continue to provide essential support to everyone affected by MND and to continue the vital research that brings us closer to a cure.”
To support Stuart, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/fast4forty