PICTURES: Nairn stroke survivors epic adventure
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A Nairn stroke survivor is going river deep and mountain high for charity.
Action man Douglas Sewell is going river deep and mountain high this month for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland.
Stroke survivor Douglas (63) will kayak across Loch Lochy, in the Great Glen between Inverness and Fort William, to the wild campsite at the foot of Meall na Teanga.
Then, along with twin brother Bruce, Mr Sewell will complete the charity’s May Munro Challenge by scaling the 3,012ft high peak.
What would seem a daunting challenge to anyone else is just another tick on the fundraising adventure list for the Nairn man.
After all, this is a man who survived a stroke on a Peruvian mountainside and a second, more serious stroke seven years later, then walked the length of Scotland, all 536 miles, to raise money for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland.
He also completed the Munro Challenge last year, albeit virtually.
This time he will be scaling the mountain for real.
Last year, hundreds of people across Scotland joined the team and together they tackled all 282 Munros, raising over £16,403 for the charity.
Mr Sewell said: “We’re aiming to complete the challenge on the last weekend in May, timing it with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s May Munro Challenge on May 28–30. We’ll be keeping an eye on the weather, however, in case the wind means we have to move it to the weekend before or the one after.
“I’ve been inspired by armed forces’ veterans who have returned from Afghanistan or Iraq and have raised money and helped others despite their own injuries.
“I hope to raise money for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, but the most important aspect of this challenge is to highlight the health benefits of exercise.
“From my own experience, I know how important physical exercise is to recovery. I want to provide people with our conditions with the information and opportunity to engage in physical exercise to improve their health and wellbeing.”
Since his strokes, in 2003 and 2010, Mr Sewell has become deeply involved with the work of Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. Today he is a trustee of the charity as well as being a volunteer and an active member of working groups.
He says: “I’m on the physical activity steering group, which I think is very important. The Spring into Summer initiative, which gets people to increase their physical activity for two months, is a great idea.
“I’ve set a target of doing 10k steps every day over the two months. I do pilates twice a week and weight training, too. I also do road cycling and mountain biking, depending on the weather.
“Everyone with our conditions can be helped with the right support, and I’m no different.”
Mr Sewell certainly doesn’t believe in letting the grass grow under his feet. Last year he was due to take part in the Aviemore 100, a cycling challenge including road and off-road mountain biking. The event was unfortunately cancelled because of coronavirus restrictions, but he hopes to get on his bike in the Aviemore 100 in 2021.
He continued: “I want to raise as much money as possible, but this challenge is more about raising awareness. I want people to understand how fitness can save lives. That’s the most important message.”
Megan McFarlane, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s community and events fundraiser said: “Douglas is such an inspiration to us and other stroke survivors. It’s amazing that he is taking on the May Munro challenge again this year, then adding his own twist with that extra challenge, he is just incredible.
"At Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland we believe that there should be no life half lived and Douglas certainly lives up to that. I’d like to thank him for all his amazing efforts to raise funds and awareness to help other stroke survivors and their families.
“There is still plenty time to sign up to the May Munro challenge, whether you fancy bagging your first Munro, bagging a few more or you want to try some weatherproof hillwalking from home, you’ll be helping people with chest, heart and stroke conditions do more than survive – you’ll help them really live visit https://chss.org.uk/munro-challenge”