Edinburgh man fundraising to take brother on 'first holiday abroad in 30 years'

Chris, in the Santa hat with his family.
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Wyatt)


A brave Edinburgh man is taking on an epic challenge - so his younger brother can enjoy his first holiday in 30 years.

Andrew Wyatt, from Lawnmarket. will run nearly 1,000km from Land's End in Cornwall, south west England, to John o' Groats in Caithness at the start of June.

His brother Chris was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 16 and needs two carers to accompany him so he can travel safely.

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Andrew said he would love his brother, now 55, to experience a holiday abroad.

He said: "Chris was last on a foreign holiday about 30 years ago, sad but true.

"He really doesn’t mind where he goes. It is the idea of flying to a sunny country that has beaches and a warm sea that really appeals to him most."

Andrew travels down from Edinburgh to Hartlepool where Chris lives as mush as he can, he said: "I visit him when I have time off work. I support Hartlepool too so our favourite times to meet are in the football ground about 30 minutes before kick off. We have a lovely catch up. Optimism is high. Then the match kicks off. And we lose….!"

Chris is the youngest of three brothers, Andrew is the oldest at 60, John is 58 and Chris 55. Speaking about growing up, he said: "It was really awful for my late parents. They spent the last 30 years of their lives wondering exactly what they had done wrong as parents to change an intelligent, kind 16-year-old who everyone loved into a 'stranger' who required constant medication.

a black and white photo of a man and his three sons
Chris and their dad on the left. -Credit:Andrew Wyatt

"It’s a painful illness to observe because sometimes it’s very easy to see the 16 year old Chris at times but that can change very quickly if the medication becomes unbalanced."

Andrew continues: "There’s a very famous football quote which goes “It’s the hope that kills you” I often think this can refer equally to Chris when we can see the boy we love and that all is good with him, only for him to disappear again in the blink of an eye as the “voices” return".

Andrew was at University in Edinburgh in the 1980s when the condition began to take over: "I only heard accounts over a weekly payphone call to my parents describing Chris’ behaviour," he said. "I didn’t witness the changes at first hand it was very difficult to reconcile the Chris I had left behind and the Chris I discovered when I got home for holidays."

He says of the cruel condition: "It happens to very beautiful, intelligent kind and loving people. It is a usually a chemical imbalance in the brain that occurs during puberty. It is NOT their personality. It is not THEM. It happens TO them."

The fundraiser reads: "Despite the friendly smile, my brother Chris who is 55 now, has been fighting a daily battle since the age of 16 against the terrible and debilitating illness of Schizophrenia. The illness is cruel in the extreme and has devastating effects on the individual."

"Chris hears constant voices which are very real to him and which exhaust him in his efforts to try and silence them. He fights a continual and unrelenting daily battle aided by a huge cocktail of medication which sometimes helps but which also brings many unwanted and difficult side effects. Chris has been facing this daily fight for 40 years now."

NHS state schizophrenia is a long-term mental health condition which causes a range of different psychological symptoms.

Doctors often describe schizophrenia as a type of psychosis. This means the person may not always be able to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality.

Symptoms of schizophrenia can include hallucinations, delusions, muddled thoughts and speech, wanting to avoid people and feeling disconnected from your feelings or emotions.

It is a common misconception that people with schizophrenia have a split personality - this is untrue.

The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown. But most experts believe the condition is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It's thought that some people are more vulnerable to developing schizophrenia, and certain situations can trigger the condition such as a stressful life event or drug misuse.

Andrew taking part in Marathon Des Sables, the 'toughest foot' race on earth held in the Sahara desert
Andrew taking part in Marathon Des Sables, the 'toughest foot' race on earth. -Credit:Ian Corless

Andrew's race is the Rat Race Run Britannia, which is described on their website as: "This is the holy grail of UK adventures and tackling this epic journey is a major physical and logistical undertaking. We’ve put together a fully supported, truly stunning 1000 mile, 70, 000 ft elevation adventure that spans the entire length of this great nation on a bespoke route designed to take in the most beautiful trails in the UK along the way."

Andrew has been working as a postman in Dunbar since last August. He doesn't have a van for his route which is 11 miles. It takes him around five hours with a trolley and a heavy bag or two, he said: This has been perfect training for the slog of Land’s End to John O’Groats. After work the dog needs exercising and any extra running is done on my days off!"

The postman also plays hockey for the Scottish over 55 team, and a few years ago impressively completed Marathon des Sables which is seven-day, 250 km ultramarathon, which is approximately the distance of six regular marathons. This multiday race is held every year in southern Morocco, in the Sahara Desert.

Andrew says: “I’m hoping that people will see what a fantastic adventure this would be for him and help in whatever way they can.”

You can donate to the fundraiser for Chris here.

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