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Three Peaks Challenge trio 'top of the world' after smashing goal to help Inverness mother with multiple sclerosis (MS)

By Philip Murray

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All set for the big challenge just before setting off up Snowdon.
All set for the big challenge just before setting off up Snowdon.

A DELIGHTED Highland trio's epic 24-hour mountaineering challenge has raised vital cash to help an Inverness mum in her fight with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Jacqueline Paul, from Dornoch, and Kiera Scott and Siobhan Macbeath, from Tain, took on the famous Three Peaks Challenge earlier this week – a feat which sees hikers attempt to scale the tallest peaks in Scotland, Wales and England in under 24 hours.

And their journey, which began at Snowdon in Wales and then took in Scafell Pike in the Lake District before concluding atop Ben Nevis, was a roaring – if tiring – success.

For the trio smashed not just their goal to complete the trek in under 24 hours – by almost a full hour – but have also already surpassed their initial fundraising goal, with more money still coming in.

They had hoped to raise £1000 but, at the time of writing, the total stood at £1435 and looked set to rise further as inspired Highlanders sought to add to the pot.

They money will be used to help towards the cost of funding lifechanging treatment for Culloden mum-of-two Jade Taylor (38), who was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of MS in February 2021.

The trio atop Snowdon.
The trio atop Snowdon.

She has been raising funds to help her travel to Mexico for treatment which could 'reboot' her immune system and possibly halt, or even reverse, her illness.

But she is still roughly £10,000 shy of reaching the £56,000 she will need for the costs, and a hoped for health insurance payout did not materialise after her insurer argued she had been symptomatic at the time she took out her cover.

Related: Highland trio inspired to take on Three Peaks Challenge after hearing of Inverness mum's multiple sclerosis (MS) fight

Related: Highland mum battling multiple sclerosis (MS) vows to fight on over insurance payout refusal

Jade has stressed that a diagnosis of MS was not made by doctors until many months after she'd begun payments – and medics did even not suspect the condition at the time either.

However, despite that, an appeal to the Financial Ombudsman was rejected after it ruled that "the issue is not whether the root cause of those symptoms was MS, but rather that, whatever the underlying cause, the symptoms were not disclosed.”

And after reading about Jade's plight and ongoing fight to overturn the insurer's decision, Jacqueline, Kiera and Siobhan decided to take on the Three Peaks Challenge to help her pay towards the costs of her treatment.

The trio took on their challenge on Monday – which saw them walk 23 miles, climb more than 3000 metres and drive 462 miles in a single day.

Two peaks down! The three hikers on the summit of Scafell Pike.
Two peaks down! The three hikers on the summit of Scafell Pike.

They completed their fundraiser 23 hours and three minutes after they started.

And a delighted Jacqueline said: "We are so happy – [almost] £1500 is incredible. We set off on Monday and had a quick check and that's when we realised we'd cracked the thousand, so that was such a great start to the challenge. We were already buzzing at that point – it's brilliant."

The trio enjoyed glorious clear skies and sunny weather on their travels, although Jacqueline said this brought its own challenges when it came to climbing Scafell Pike in the middle of the day owing to the hot weather and lack of a breeze.

Highlight of the day for Jacqueline was the climb up Snowdon: "We got up Snowdon in three hours and it was just absolutely glorious. We started at 7am, we pretty much had the hill to ourselves, and we'd got so much energy so that was definitely the highlight."

But as temperatures rose, and the winding roads of the Lake District took a toll, the ascent of their next peak was less easy. Jacqueline said: "I would say Scafell Pike in the middle of the day probably was our lowest point, because we expected it to be just as easy, but we were already feeling quite depleted just with the travel.

"It was quite hot weather, there's no breeze and it's so warm, so Scafell Pike was a struggle."

And then delays on the M6 motorway caused an anxious spell for them as they worried about whether it might prevent them completing the challenge inside 24 hours.

The trio set off at midnight to climb Ben Nevis.
The trio set off at midnight to climb Ben Nevis.

But, as Jacqueline added, the final ascent up Ben Nevis capped a superb day: "Ben Nevis was incredible, so exciting. We started that at midnight, had the headtorches ready, but there was quite a lot of light from the moon and because it's near the longest day anyway, it wasn't by any means bright, but there was still a bit of light.

"We were absolutely spoiled with clear skies – the sky looked incredible just with the way the light was, the orange and pink colours. So, yeah, that was a little bit of a blur doing that in the middle of the night but it wasn't as tough as Scafell Pike in the middle of the day.

"We're honestly just happy to complete [the challenge] and getting it done within the 24 hours was just the cherry on the top – amazing."

She was also full of praise for the "amazing" Susan Morrison, who drove them between the peaks on the day, which meant they didn't have to try driving themselves on top of all their climbing.

Jade has hailed the efforts of the trio and their kind-hearted gesture. She said: "It's just amazing. To be able to do all that in less than 24 hours it's just outstanding."

She added that she wished she'd been there with them, but said she hoped to be able to do so one day if her treatment is a success.

To donate to the trio's fundraising total, go to www.gofundme.com/f/3-peaks-challenge-for-jades-ms-treatment.

Jade's main fundraiser page can also be found at www.gofundme.com/f/hsct-treatment-in-mexico-to-stop-my-ms.

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