I'll start with a quick introduction, my name is Natalie and I was diagnosed with MND in 2016 at the age of 29. I had no physical symptoms, so to say my diagnosis was a shock is a huge understatement!
During the first couple of years I remained strong. When my balance deteriorated and the falls increased, I completely lost all confidence. After swallowing my pride, I knew to stay safe I needed to use a wheelchair.
In late 2018 I met Alex. I was in awe! This incredible man was out there raising awareness of MND whilst suffering himself. He went on to complete physical challenges that even the ablest bodied person would struggle with. He appeared totally fearless and his determination to achieve gave me the kick up the bottom I desperately needed!
I eagerly wanted to be a part of Challenging MND so when the opportunity arose to Pedalo The River Chelmer I jumped at it (figuratively speaking).
Pardon the cliché, but that day on the river really will be a day I treasure forever! From start to finish I had crowds of friends and family supporting me as pedal by pedal we completed the 14 miles!
Before the challenge began I honestly had no idea if I'd physically be able to complete it or not. Unable to even walk a step unaided was obviously playing on my mind, but I believed there was still power in those legs of mine! Having Alex by myside and my team behind me fuelled my determination to succeed.
I'm not going to lie, after 6 hours it was getting tough, but there was no way I was going to stop!
I was literally following the sunshine along the river the whole day and as we approached Heybridge Basin it began to set. It was in that beautiful moment that the emotions hit me!
I'd done it!!
For the first time in a long time I felt proud of myself. I'd completed my challenge and knew with the money I'd raised I'd be helping to fund someone else's memory of a lifetime!
I can't thank Challenging MND enough for the phenomenal experience they gave me, a memory that will forever bring a momentous feeling to my soul & smile to my face!
Accompanied by 2 equally adventurous friends, Paul Jameson set himself an epic challenge, climbing the iconic Matterhorn mountain in Switzerland!
The challenge I undertook was to climb the Matterhorn mountain in Zermatt, Switzerland, an iconic 4,478m peak. The idea came from the successful Mont Blanc climb I did in 2018 with a friend Mike Sutcliffe and his son Jack. The same team was assembled for the Matterhorn challenge in August this year.
Having trained hard, we were optimistic to reach the top despite the risks involved with altitude, falling rocks, and the relentless 12-hour climb & descent. We hired an experienced Zermatt guide which proved invaluable. The Matterhorn is ranked as the 6th most dangerous mountain in the world, Everest is the 9th!
The four of us set off in the dark along the Hornli ridge from the base hut at 4 a.m. on Thurs 15th August. Immediately the climbing became steep and tough and even at an early stage, we realised this was going to be tough. We had to keep a fast pace going to be able to get to the top and back in a day.
After 4 hours of climbing, we were falling behind the pace and came to realise the difficulty of the challenge. We were amateurs playing a professional game. We reached the ‘Shoulder’ at about 4,200 meters when the guide quite correctly made the call that we did not have time to summit and we should descend. It was a mixture of disappointment and relief, we were exhausted and still had the more difficult descent to manage. However, we were proud to have got as far as we did, only 200mtrs from the summit. Sitting down, taking our helmets off, taking a breather and admiring the wonderful alpine views was probably the most memorable moment of the climb.
A big thank you to all our supporters, particularly my family who had sleepless nights while we did the challenge. Also huge thanks to all the Challenge MND team and their kind donation, it made a big difference.
This was not a fundraising event as I have undertaken many other fundraising challenges since my MND diagnosis in 2017 and felt I could not tap up my friends and family yet again. To date, we have raised around £150,000 for MND charities.
There will be another challenge with a mountain theme and this is likely to be a cross Pyrenees cycle from Atlantic to the Mediterranean in 2020.