Determined climbers raise £1,500 to help protect Whittlesey residents

In a year like no other, Deborah Slator and Diane Ahearne decided to take on a challenge harder than any they had encountered before.

Saturday, 15th May 2021, 1:34 pm

Every year the duo are part of a group who take on a big challenge to raise money for Debrillators for All, a charity which has delivered and maintained 48 of the life-saving machines in Whittlesey

And with a lot of the defibrillators and cabinets they are stored in needing replacing, this year they took on the daunting task of scaling Britain’s largest peak, Ben Nevis.

With others dropping out due to issues relating to the pandemic, the two women ventured into Scotland to take on the 1,345m challenge having already prepared by climbing Kinder Scout, the highest point in the Peak District.

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Diane Ahearne and Deborah Slator at the top of Ben Nevis

Assisted by guide Alison Thacker, Deborah admitted she “felt a bit smug that this seemed to be an easy assent”.

However, reality soon kicked in.

“We needed regular short stops to allow our legs to regain their strength and allow us to refuel,” she said.

“Initially I was overdressed and felt very hot in the absence of any wind - the temperature was also higher than expected. We assumed there would be lots of climbers as it was the first weekend Scotland had allowed travelling, and although there were a few climbers most of the time we were alone.

“We passed lakes and waterfalls and everywhere we looked the scenery was amazing. Alison did a great job of keeping us all together and motivated.

“As we got closer to the top we noticed the temperature was dropping so we added another layer of clothes. The patches of snow on the path quickly turned into a full covering so we put on our crampons on to give us the grip required to continue climbing in the snow.

“This last part was without a doubt the hardest as we tried to make headway, climbing the steepest part of the mountain which was covered by snow. My fingers were numb by this point.

“Once we reached the pinnacle the air was so fresh and pure, the sky was blue and we could see mountains and hills for miles - it really was an experience of a lifetime. We had a hot drink at the top to warm us up and then we set off on our descent.

“One of the things I was most surprised by was the internet connection which was strong the whole climb, which meant we could keep sending updates home to our Facebook group and followers.”

The descent was quicker but not without its troubles, with Deborah tripping and falling, but fortunately the group were able to make it back to the start in one piece in a time of nine hours and 12 minutes.

An “elated” Deborah added: “Sponsorship and donations from family, friends and the Whittlesey community ensured that we truly did our best.

“For two oldies I think we did okay. We have raised almost £1,500.”