July 2012 to June 2013
One of my long term targets on being discharged from hospital September 2011 was to be able to climb a Peak in Derbyshire, however, I wasn’t very confident that I would ever climb again,
but, here I was planning and training to climb Mam Tor, Edale, Derbyshire where I spent may a happy hour exploring before my stroke.
I would like the conquering of my ‘Everest’ to stand as an inspiration and hope to those in
recovery, their loved ones, friends and carers, that there is ‘life after a stroke’.
In life there will always be ‘mountains’ to climb, large and small. My father was Polish and there is an old Polish saying: ‘The
last thing I will give up is hope’ (Psalm 121)”
Since carrying the Olympic Torch last July I became very busy speaking about my experience at various schools I even took it to Australia and showed it to several classes at my grand children’s
I have also been training quite hard to strengthen my leg muscle and my balance skills which has been a serious challenge as I still have shortened calf muscles in my right leg so regular visits to the Sportspark at the UEA where the swimming
pool and gym have enabled me to accomplish where I am today fitness wise. Lately I’ve taken to walk around the block with my walking frame as I have to sit quite a lot due to fatigue and severe pain in lower back, To walk the block is another goal met.
My Everest (Mam Tor)
As I am still quite weak and need walking aids it would have been silly of me to attempt this climb without a support group so my first task was to arrange a support team made up friends who answered to an appeal placed on my
face book. My wife Jeannie’s friend Michelle and her husband Ian came on board first, Ian was a qualified medic in the RAF and an experienced mountaineer so his experience was vital for every ones safety other members were Michaela, Angie and Theo,
Martin another experienced mountaineer, Simon, Paul and Zoe and their dogs and the most important part of the team Jeannie my wife, this was her very first climb.
We arrived the night before and stayed in a very pleasant hotel ‘Ye Old Nags Head’
and met up with our friends for dinner and a few drinks, we discussed the route and agreed that it would take the best part of a day to achieve our goal.
Next morning after a sleepless night worrying whether I had bitten off more than I can chew we
ate a hearty breakfast and set off to start at 9am. All but Simon was there so after donning my boots and wind proofs we set off near enough on time. At first I tried walking with a Nordic pole but as soon as I hit the slope I changed to my sticks as I couldn’t
keep my balance, I soon realized that it was going to be far harder than I previously thought as the footpaths built by the National trust to conserve the country side (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8313779/National-Trust-to-build-100-miles-of-footpaths.html
) are rugged and there are many steps of varying heights which became a bit of a nightmare further up the hill.
As I have said I started the climb using my old walking pole but after about five meters my balance became rather precarious and the pain
in my back increased which caused me to take my first rest it was here that I changed back to sticks, I don’t think I said anything about the pain as I wanted to stay as positive as I could after all five meters is not much. The first part of the climb
was a gentle slope with shallow steps still difficult I thought so I was greatly encouraged by the thought “if the rest is like this no problems” how wrong was I?
When I climbed pre stroke I would stop often to take in the wonders of the
ever changing landscape the memories of which are still with me, but, on this climb I was face down looking where my feet were landing and when I took a break then I could look around, however, I found looking downward also has its magic moments as I saw insects
that I never seen or noticed before i.e. brightly coloured beetles and large hairy caterpillars.
It seemed no time at all when I reach the top of the first stage where Jeannie my wife and Simon were waiting for me so we had another but longer well-earned
rest, however, the higher we climbed the stronger the wind blew and being a North Easterly it was cold.
As I started to climb the second leg of the peak I soon realised that it was going to be a real challenge, the path became more rugged and some of
the steps were so high I couldn’t lift my foot high enough, this is where my team came to help, Angie stood behind me an lifted my strong foot onto the next step then I had to pull myself up to the next step this in itself became increasingly hard so
Others had to support me by holding my elbows taking off some of the weight.
At one point the cross wind became so severe the team stood in a line giving me a modicum of shelter, then I noticed Jeannie sitting by the path laughing her head off she told
us that the wind had blown her over, luckily she went down on the upside of the hill.
All of a sudden we reached the summit where Jeannie and I walked to the trig point together a very proud moment not only because I had made it but my wife was by my
side as this was the very first peak she had climbed herself. It was an amazing experience seeing other people join in with our celebrations and at one point a young man of about seven years and his mum approached me to congratulated me and he handed me a
£2.00 as a donation
We spent about 15 minutes at the top celebrating my achievement by opening a couple of bottles of champagne before the cold wind became too uncomfortable, the journey down was just as difficult as I had to take each step sideways
but with lots of support and man handling from my team I was able to achieve getting the bottom without falling over, however, the effort of the climb began to take its toll on my body, but I made it.
Thank you to all my friends for taking the time
to travel to Derbyshire