I WAS delighted to attend the very special event last week at Glamis Castle to celebrate with thousands of other Angus citizens the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II. What a well-organised event it was, and the many volunteers from Montrose were very much to the fore.
Next year marks not just the diamond jubilee of both of the Queen’s coronation but also of the very special event that preceded the coronation, the first ascent of Mount Everest by Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing in May 1953. Nearly 60 years on from that historic event, taking on challenges that were once thought to be out of reach of ordinary people is fairly commonplace. Ascending Everest nowadays, while not without major risks as last week’s tragic deaths near the summit showed, is almost commonplace
I was drawn to think about this as my daughter and her husband are currently making their way to Base Camp on Mount Everest, not to climb the mountain but to run a marathon from Base Camp back down the mountain near to where they started trekking nine days ago, with a few stops along the way to acclimatise.
What is quite different from the stirring account of the first Everest ascent in 1953 to the present-day world is that nearly everyone who takes on these challenges – be it running marathons, parachuting or swimming the length of the Thames - is sponsored and raises considerable sums of money to aid the work of a large number of charities doing really important work.
Last week’s Review featured a wonderful story about neighbours and friends of Mark Toshney and partner Carolyn. They responded to Mark’s shock diagnosis of a brain tumour not just with a determination to overcome that dreadful affliction but also with a determination to raise considerable sums of money, by running marathons, to aid research into brain tumours and help others cope in similar situations.
Hundreds of thousands of people in Britain do things like this every year and yet don’t consider themselves in any way remarkable. Of course many like our neighbours or my daughter and son-in-law do these things in part out of the enjoyment of meeting challenges but they are not just focused on self. Some, perhaps even most, do not see themselves as practising Christians but it seems to me that, in going to such lengths to meet the needs of others, they are acting very much in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ who preached love for our neighbours and made clear that we will be judged by our actions towards others.
Old and St Andrew’s Church