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Broughty Ferry father and son, 6, to complete bridge challenge in memory of mum Vivienne

Kenny McDonald, 56, and son Jacob, six, will complete their bridge challenge on Sunday July 17.
Kenny McDonald, 56, and son Jacob, six, will complete their bridge challenge on Sunday July 17.

A father and son from Broughty Ferry who have walked five major Scottish bridges over the past year in memory of their wife and mum will complete the challenge this month.

Kenny McDonald, 56, and Jacob, six, launched the campaign after losing much-loved Vivienne, who died aged 32 after a battle with pulmonary fibrosis.

The pair, who will walk across the Erskine Bridge in Glasgow on July 17, have raised more than £4,800 for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust to help support patients and their families.

Together they have crossed some of Scotland’s most iconic bridges – including the Tay Bridge, the Forth Road Bridge and the Isle of Skye Bridge.

Kenny and Jacob hope to raise £5,000 for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust.

Kenny, a stay-at-home dad and retired bus driver, says the fundraising challenge has helped him to cope with the loss of Vivienne, who died in November 2017.

He said: “My mental health hasn’t been so great, so it has been a welcome distraction.

“After my wife died, I kind of lost the plot a bit, so this is something that has gave me focus – something to concentrate on to keep me in kind of a straight mindset.”

Jacob was only 18 months old when his mum died.

Vivienne’s miracle pregnancy

Vivienne, who was diagnosed at 28, unexpectedly fell pregnant with Jacob after being told by doctors that she only had a short time left to live.

After nine miscarriages, it was her dream to become a mother.

Vivienne McDonald, who died at 32, found out she was pregnant with Jacob after surviving nine miscarriages.

Kenny is now an ambassador for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust, where Jacob is also a mascot.

He says their story has resonated with patients around the world.

Jacob gives them the will to fight that little bit harder.”

Kenny McDonald

Speaking about members of the Pulmonary Fibrosis UK and US Facebook pages, where he regularly posts updates on he and Jacob’s journey, he said: “Jacob gives them the will to fight that little bit harder.

“They’ve also told me that Vivienne has been an inspiration for them to fight harder, so I take comfort and inspiration from that as well.”

Kenny and Jacob’s story has touched the hearts of pulmonary fibrosis patients across the world.

Pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive lung disease that has no cure.

Life expectancy is just three years from diagnosis, and over 6,000 people die from it each year in the UK.

The father and son have been accompanied on their bridge walks by an army of Vivienne’s closest friends and supporters – including the respiratory and maternity teams from Ninewells Hospital who helped to care for her.

It has not been easy for little Jacob, who says his ankles hurt after he walked two bridges in the Highlands on his birthday in May – the Cromarty Bridge and the Kessock Bridge.

Kenny and Jacob, husband and son of Vivienne McDonald, crossed the Kessock Bridge in Inverness on Jacob’s birthday in May, after crossing the Cromarty Bridge.

Kenny said: “He was toiling at the end of that second bridge, bless him.

“Then it started to rain as well – so that didn’t help.

“As soon as we got back in the car, within 10 minutes he was gone, he was out of it.

“But he takes it in his stride.”

Pair hope to smash £5,000 target

Having received donations from across the world, including the US, Canada and the Middle East, Kenny is hopeful the pair will “smash” their £5,000 target when they cross their final bridge this month.

Jacob celebrates crossing the Isle of Skye Bridge in May.

Peter Bryce, chairman of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust, said: “Jacob’s efforts and determination is an inspiration and has given a lot of comfort to those dealing with the emotional impact of pulmonary fibrosis.

“He has achieve an enormous amount of awareness as well as raising funds, and we are so grateful to him.

“His mum would have been proud of him and his incredible achievement, as, of course, his dad is.

“Jacob – you are a star and have reached the hearts of all those suffering with pulmonary fibrosis”.

You can donate to Kenny and Jacob’s fundraiser here.

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