A Cumbrian man has climbed his first two Wainwrights – 15 years after he was paralysed – and has just launched a massive fundraising challenge for two local charities.
Charlie Deans, 46, climbed Dodd Fell and Latrigg with his family and says it will be the first of many mountains for him.
Charlie, of Wigton, has no feelings in his legs after two spinal operations were unsuccessful.
He said: “It obviously changed my life. I went from being a successful self-employed gardener and builder with everything to look forward to, to it being a struggle every day.”
Charlie, who previously lived in Dalston, was always a keen mountain biker and fell walker and wanted to climb a Wainwright to prove he could.
The dad-of-two said: “I am hoping to do all the Wainwrights, even if I have to crawl to the top. I love being local to the Lake District – the overwhelming achievement of getting to the top takes away any pain with pure adrenalin.”
He has just begun a challenge to complete the distance form Land’s End to John O’Groats – 874 miles – on local roads.
He aims to raise money as part of the £50,000 virtual challenge, to be shared between Eden Valley Hospice and the Lake District Calvert Trust.
Charlie has completed 121 miles so far.
He said: “My advice – nothing is impossible. Take one step at a time. I always look towards the next bend and keep focused.
“There’s no point in looking back as you can only change the future. Nobody is going to do it for you.
“After being isolated for four years in my bedroom and then it became a choice to live or die and I chose life. I decided enough was enough.
“My motivation was my family, to prove I could beat this.” He completed the walks with his wife Sara Deans, daughters Ebony and Lois and nephew Will Ismay.
Charlie began training about a year ago.
He said: “I would go out in my wheelchair for short distances at first, building up to an average of about 15 miles per push – not every day – and weather depending.”
Charlie uses a sports wheelchair to help with the terrain.
He added: “I’m also doing a tandem paragliding flight over the Lake District once the weather improves and lockdown is over.
“There shouldn’t be any barriers, whether able bodied or disabled. There should be access for all.”
To donate to Charlie’s challenge, visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/CharlesDeans