Chartered surveyor Duncan to be remembered at charity football tournament

Chartered surveyor Duncan to be remembered at charity football tournament

Duncan Wright

An Edinburgh family are fundraising in memory of their loved one, who died at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown, aged just 29.

Chartered surveyor and keen footballer Duncan Wright died in 2020, after catching an infection during what was meant to be life-saving heart surgery, almost two years earlier. Despite two further heart surgeries and daily treatment, the infection led to Duncan’s premature death. He left behind his wife Laura, twin sister Ghilly, older brother Tom, and parents Jim and Morag.

Since suffering their tragic loss, Duncan’s family have been raising money for Ronald McDonald House Charities UK, a charity providing free ‘home away from home’ accommodation and support for families with children in hospital.

Duncan’s dad Jim Wright, a chartered building surveyor from Edinburgh, said: “Duncan was born in 1990 with a significant congenital heart disease, which required surgery as an infant to replace a valve and amend another, undertaken at what was the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Sciennes, Edinburgh. Aged 11, he had to have the amended natural valve replaced; that was done in Glasgow’s ‘Sick Kids’ hospital.”

While Duncan was being treated in Glasgow, Morag was offered a room at the nearby Ronald McDonald House, where she was able to stay, free-of-charge.

Morag said: “It was a godsend – It took away some of the worries we were facing and enabled me to be by Duncan’s bedside in a matter of minutes.”

When Duncan was 22, he required further surgery to replace his aorta, but the surgery wasn’t completely successful, which meant a weakness remained in the aorta. He ‘bounced back’ but in 2018, aged 28, it was discovered that he had developed an aneurysm and had to have another high-risk operation to replace his aorta and one of the artificial valves.

Jim explained: “The surgery went as planned and was a major success but unfortunately, he caught an incurable fungal infection during surgery, which, over the course of the following two years, gradually blocked his arteries, causing two strokes and he had to have his lower leg removed. He passed away on 4 April 2020.”

In August 2020, Jim decided to cycle Duncan’s ashes from his home in Edinburgh, 115 miles to Sandgreen on the Solway Estuary, where the family enjoyed many holidays over the years, and where Duncan’s ashes were then scattered. Still grateful for the 24/7 accommodation and support they received at Ronald McDonald House Glasgow, Jim decided to make it a sponsored cycle and raised an incredible £28,000 plus gift aid for Ronald McDonald House Charities UK, an independent charity, which operates 14 Houses across England, Wales, and Scotland, including a House in Edinburgh, located above the new ‘Sick Kids’ hospital at Little France.

Before Duncan died, he had been working for Avison Young. Jim had been a director there previously. They had been running a friendly 5-a-side charitable football tournament in Edinburgh for four years and Duncan played in their team each time. With Covid restrictions lifted, Avison Young reinstated their annual fixture in 2022 under the guidance of director Peter Fraser.

Peter said: “It was devastating to lose our close friend and colleague Duncan in such tragic circumstances. Despite having a heart condition, he was a key part of our company and one of our star players in the previous fives competitions.

“It’s only fitting that last year, following a hiatus during the pandemic, we brought the annual football competition back, renaming it The Duncan Wright Memorial Cup, in honour of Duncan. We gave the Wright family the opportunity to nominate a charity who would receive the funds raised from the event and they chose Ronald McDonald House Charities UK.”

Jim added: “Duncan had his first operation when he was just four months old, so being as close to his hospital ward was imperative for us. Ronald McDonald House Charities UK allows families across the UK to stay together, providing accommodation close to the hospital during their most difficult times. We’re so impressed by the work they do and we’re extremely grateful to Avison Young who continue to support our fundraising for them.”

This year’s competition will be the sixth one running and will take place on 3 November at the World of Football in Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange. Last year’s tournament raised more than £8,000 and organisers are hoping to raise lots of money again this year as they celebrate Duncan.

Jim said: “Duncan was never a victim, nor did he want to be seen as one. His journey was shorter than anyone ever imagined, and we all feel proud and privileged to have known Duncan, and so fortunate to have witnessed his journey through life for as long as we had together.

“We’re grateful for any and all donations, and kindly ask people to give what they can. This can be done through Avison Young’s Just Giving page, where a 5-a-sde team can be entered and donations made. There is also a raffle where proceeds will go to the charity. What matters is that sick children, with their families, can get the support they need when often far from home.”

Ronald McDonald Houses keep families together, close to their children in hospital. They provide a place to sleep, cook and retain some sense of normal life; a lifeline for families at a very stressful time. A Ronald McDonald House saves each family an average of £1,240 in out-of-pocket accommodation expenses.

Julia Coley, Ronald McDonald House Charities UK community fundraiser for Scotland said: “We are so sorry for the Wright family’s tragic loss. It’s clear that Duncan squeezed a lot into his 29 years and didn’t let his condition define him.

“We’re grateful to all of Duncan’s family, friends and work colleagues for their support of our Charity and wish all of the competitors luck for the forthcoming Duncan Wright Memorial Cup. The entry fee is £400 per team is, which can be donated via the JustGiving page. The money raised will help us continue our vital work to keep families together when they need it most.”

The 25-bedroom Ronald McDonald House Edinburgh, which opened in March 2021, provides free accommodation to the families of children being treated at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh. The accommodation is on the top floor of the new children’s hospital where families can stay free of charge and for as long as they need. Last year, the House accommodated 666 individuals who stayed for an average of 11 nights. It has communal areas such as lounges, kitchens, laundry facilities and a playroom, and every bedroom has a telephone directly linked to the children’s wards.

To find out more about the Duncan Wright Memorial Cup, go to:

Share icon
Share this article: