Scarborough army veteran Ray Clarke embarks on '7 for 70' fundraising challenge in memory of friend who died from Motor Neurone Disease

A Scarborough resident has set out on his toughest charity challenge yet as he aims to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association in memory of a close friend.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 10:20 am
Updated Thursday, 19th August 2021, 10:22 am

Ray Clarke has embarked on “7 for 70” where he asks seven friends and family to bring him along on their favourite walk ahead of his 70th birthday next month.

“Some of the people, they’re not so much into walking,” Ray said. “I’ve done the first one, a 60-mile bike ride along the Trent-Mersey canal, and I’ve got the next one on August 26, climbing Cader Idris in Snowdonia.”

Ray has set out on his fundraising challenge in memory of close friend Charles who passed away in April, having previously been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

Scarborough's Ray Clarke ahead of setting out on his '7 for 70' challenge.

The pair met at the Army Apprentices College in Harrogate in 1967 and after graduating in 1969/1970 a group of friends lost touch after going their separate ways. Ray would go on to serve with an army signals regiment in Bahrain.

In May 2009, four of the former apprentices, including Ray and Charles, organised a reunion in London.

“It was emotional because Charles was still the same guy and the other two were exactly the same,” Ray said. “It was just like the years rolled back.”

At one of their reunions back in 2014, Ray said that Charles revealed he had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

Ray Clarke will climb the 893m Cader Idris mountain in Snowdonia for his second '7 for 70' challenge.

Motor Neurone Disease affects the brain and nerves and causes weakness that gets worse over time which eventually leads to death. There is currently no cure.

“Once he said it, it was a hammer blow. I knew at some stage that he wouldn’t be with us,” Ray said. “There’s no cure, that’s it, you’ve received a death sentence.

“In the last couple of years it has been very moving and then with Covid for most of last year I only saw him once and the fear that I, our group, we would lose him before we saw him again.”

Ray’s first fundraising “7 for 70” challenge got off to a bumpy start.

“It was supposed to be 100 miles, the length of the Trent-Mersey canal. I had a mishap and I came off my bike and spent two months recovering, I really banged up my ribs but didn’t break anything!”

However, Ray admits there is a sense of achievement as he ticks off challenges from his fundraising list.

“I’m coming up to 70, you’re pedalling and there is an exhilaration of ‘I’ve done it’,” he said.

Ahead of his second challenge, climbing the 893m Cader Idris mountain in Snowdonia, Ray said: “It’s exciting!

“The chap I’m walking with I’ve known since 2006.

“I’ve got the confidence in us both and it’ll wind me down, yes, but I’m really looking forward to it!”

So far he has raised £400. To donate visit https://www.justgiving.com/mndassoc