Team of fundraisers to take on infamous Fan Dance SAS challenge for Dementia UK

Authored by Mary
Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2024 - 23:40

A team of more than 30 will attempt to complete the gruelling 15 mile route in under 4.5 hours to raise funds for the charity’s dementia specialist Admiral Nurses

April 2024, Devon. A group of more than 30 fundraisers, including a number from Devon, will take on the infamous Fan Dance SAS selection challenge on Sunday 14th April to raise vital funds for Dementia UK, the specialist dementia nursing charity.

Aiming to complete the challenge in less than 4.5 hours, the team will cover 15 miles, scaling the Pen Y Fan peak twice – ascending over 4,500ft in the process. The group of friends, which includes several former members of the British Armed Forces, are mostly over the age of 50.

Inspired by their own experiences of dementia, either through family members or friends, the group has smashed its initial fundraising target of £1,000, with their total currently standing at more than £2,500. 

The group will be led by Shane Neill from Torquay, whose mum lived with dementia and received the support of an Admiral Nurse, and who chose the group’s charity. Other fundraisers include:

  • Barry Azzopardi, Dartmouth – an experienced fundraiser, Barry’s parents both lived with dementia and required round the clock care
  • Colin Stinson, Holsworthy – Colin took on the Fan Dance as part of the SAS selection process, and has since completed the challenge every five years. Colin was inspired to raise funds for Dementia UK for his uncle who is currently living with dementia
  • David Perkins, Lytham St Annes – a passionate fundraiser, David is hoping to raise funds and awareness to support people affected by dementia after seeing how the condition has affected his friends and their families

Funds raised will help the charity to provide dementia specialist Admiral Nurses, to support families facing dementia.

Every three minutes, someone in the UK develops dementia: a progressive and complex condition that can be devastating for the whole family. It’s a huge and growing health crisis and is the leading cause of death in the UK.

Admiral Nurses are continually supported and developed by Dementia UK, to provide life-changing advice and support to anyone affected by dementia, whenever it’s needed. They work on the free national Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline, in face-to-face and virtual clinics, and in the community, in GP practices, hospitals, and care homes.

Commenting on the challenge, Shane Neill said: “Since leaving the services back in 2008 after serving 26 years with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment and the Rifles, I’ve gathered support from friends to raise funds for local and national charities.

"I’m finding physical challenges more difficult, so this year will be the last time I step into the breach for the physical aspect of things, as the mind tells the body ‘hang on there old fella,’ and at some point I need to listen.

"Having made that decision I want to go out with a bang, and am looking forward to rolling back the years by trying to ‘beat the clock’ with the Fan Dance challenge. I will be keeping a quote that served me well during my years of service close at mind during the challenge – 'Before you can see the light you have to deal with the darkness'."

Jenny Robinson, Senior Events Manager at Dementia UK, said: “We are so grateful to David, Colin, Shane, Barry and the rest of the team for taking on this mammoth challenge for Dementia UK. One in two of us will be affected by dementia in our lifetime - either by caring for someone with the condition, developing it ourselves, or both. It can be exhausting and overwhelming, not only for the person with dementia, but also for the people caring for them, and their wider family and friends.

“Thanks to the hard work of fundraisers like Shane and his team, more families than ever will be able to access the life-changing support offered by our Admiral Nurses.”  

You can sponsor Shane and the team by visiting their fundraising page here.

If you would like to take on this challenge or take on your own challenge for Dementia UK then please contact the Events Fundraising team on 020 7697 4440 or e-mail