Hugh’s ready for a giant leap of faith

‘Bionic man’ Hugh Heath from Dunfermline, Fife – who has two metal replacement knees – is set to climb to the top of a 100-foot-tall crane for a high-speed zipwire along and across the River Clyde to help families with Huntington’s disease.

The daredevil experience is the latest in a series of fundraisers by the 80-year-old grandfather who has collected thousands of pounds for Scottish Huntington’s Association over the years.

Even the Covid pandemic couldn’t stop this retired salesman – when social distancing prevented most fundraising events he clocked up 2600 kilometres over 12 months as part of our Big Walk campaign, smashing the 2000-kilometre target and collecting more than £3000 along the way.

Hugh’s support began after he met his second wife Rose whose four children inherited the faulty gene that causes Huntington’s disease from their late father. Rose’s son Hunter and her daughter Kathleen have since passed away and another daughter, Janet, is in the late stages of the disease and receives 24-hour care in a care home.

The fourth sibling, Dr Marie Short MBE, is a Trustee at Scottish Huntington’s Association and a passionate advocate and campaigner for improved specialist services for all Huntington’s families, regardless of where in Scotland they live.

“I didn’t know anything about Huntington’s disease before I met Rose back in the 1970s, none of us did. Then after her ex-husband was diagnosed, we discovered what that could mean for each of their children,” said Hugh.

Hugh says he is inspired by stepdaughter Marie’s determination to do all she can to support the Huntington’s community. Marie’s commitment to volunteering, raising awareness and fundraising was recognised with an MBE in 2019.

Hugh, who is originally from Glasgow and has three grown-up children and grandchildren from his first marriage, says the zipline challenge will be his final fundraiser – and he’s making sure he bows out on a real high!

“I wanted to do a skydive but my replacement knees ruled that out so a zipslide is the next best thing. I’m terrified of heights and it’s quite a climb to the top of the crane but I keep myself fit by going to the gym and I walked 15,000 steps every day in March,” he said.

“I’m only 80, I feel strong, and I have new knees so there’s nothing to slow me down!” said Hugh.

To find out how you can join Hugh at the zipline challenge or – knees permitting – visit

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