Seven Peaks and a weighted vest

Published on 20.02.24

Fundraising can sometimes feel like a lonely pursuit to begin with. That was certainly the case for Chris McIntosh, who knew he wanted to do something in memory of his brother, Grant, who sadly died a few years ago. Stumbling upon details of Edinburgh’s 7 Peaks Challenge Chris suddenly had a plan, but it wasn’t until he spoke to a couple of friends that it became the fully-formed challenge he recently completed, in October of 2023.

“I was going to do it on my own and just get on with it,” Chris says, looking back on the origins of his challenge, “however, speaking with a few friends, it seemed more people actually wanted to support and donate and complete the challenge with me.”

A route made popular in lockdown, the challenge covers around 35km of walking, with participants climbing the seven hills that surround the city – including the extinct volcano Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill and the incline up to Edinburgh Castle.

Always Forward!

Chris, however, added an extra challenge to his own fundraising effort, deciding to complete the challenge while wearing a weighted vest throughout the day. “I’d been running in a vest for a couple years and just wanted to make the challenge as difficult as possible for myself,” Chris explains. “I wanted to test myself and really push myself mentally and physically.”

Despite the intensity of the task, Chris says he never doubted being able to complete the task, especially with a great bunch of friends both cheering him on and completing the challenge alongside him. The group even had something of a motto to help them out along the way: Always Forward!

Always forward was a wee mantra I used that one of my friends said to me while we were training for the challenge,” Chris explains. “He actually did the challenge distance in North Carolina at the same time we did it. I also had so many people not only running with me physically but also willing me and the group on that I couldn’t let anyone down.”

Making tiny changes

Chris donated the funds he raised to Tiny Changes – eventually raising an more than £8,000 between himself and the team. “I wanted to raise money for a local charity and speaking with my friends about mental health and suicide awareness, it led us to Tiny Changes,” Chris says. “What Tiny Changes does for young people really resonated with me and it’s also a charity that’s personally close to one of my friends.”

That friend was James, who completed the challenge alongside Chris, doing so in memory of both Chris’ brother Grant and Scott Hutchison, who was a friend of James’ – something that added an extra layer of emotion to the successfully completed challenge.

Something carries on...

While he reflected on the ‘emotional rollercoaster’ of the whole thing, and his son quickly had him thinking about his next challenge, Chris’ brother was at the forefront of his mind. “I’ve never really spoke about him to folks that much,” Chris says. “I’ve never really wanted to be “that guy” in conversations or push my emotional boundaries that far. I wish I could, but I guess I’m still figuring out how to grieve, six years on. What I will say is that I love him and miss him every day,” Chris continues. “He was my wee brother and I don’t think I’ll ever not miss him.”

If you’re inspired by Chris’ fundraiser, we’d love you to plan your own challenge. Make Tiny Changes Month is in May 2024, and it’s a great time to fundraise for us and help boost our big total for the month. Keep an eye on our social media and website for details of how to set up your own fundraising page.

Join the conversation and become a tiny change maker today.

This is just the beginning of the journey, and with your help we can make lots of tiny changes that lead to a huge difference in how young people are supported and listened to.

Follow us on social media, add your voice to the community and become a tiny change maker today.