In a couple of months’ time, fundraising hero Sarah Thompson will have one hell of a mountain to climb – and it’s all her own doing.
In March, Sarah, from Polbeth, West Lothian, aims to trek 5,500 metres up Kala Patthar in the Himalayas to raise funds for Epilepsy Scotland.
Family, friends and colleagues have all contributed to her £5000 goal on Sarah’s Justgiving page, raising more than £3,200 so far.
Since committing to the Everest for Epilepsy challenge, the 36-year-old IT support worker has had to train up to four times a week to get herself into ‘peak’ physical shape for the high altitude trek to Everest Base Camp.
She was inspired to raise funds for the national epilepsy charity in support of her step-daughter, Lauren Thompson, 24, who began having seizures in her late teens.
Sarah said: “Lauren was diagnosed around the age of 16 after suffering a series of seizures. It was very much out of the blue and there’s little history of epilepsy in the family.”
Despite facing many challenges due to her condition, Lauren hasn’t let it get in the way of her leading a normal life and entering further education.
“At the age she was at you want to be more outgoing and independent, so it was obviously very difficult for her,” explains Sarah.
“It’s all about making sure that when she’s going out with friends they know what to do and who to call.
“She manages much better now with medication, but it comes and goes of course. She spent last Christmas in hospital. It has its challenges, but she doesn’t let it stop her studying.”
It’s not the first time Sarah has gone to the extra mile in the name of charity. She recently completed a mammoth trek along the Welsh coast, which in turn inspired her to take on Everest.
“I completed a 186-mile fundraising challenge round the Welsh coast for MacMillan Cancer Trust, which, I was told, is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest.
“With having that link, I thought ‘why not go to Everest’.”
Flying out on March 7, Sarah’s expedition will take around two and a half weeks to complete.
She’s paid for all the provisions she’ll need off her own back and won’t be dipping into the Justgiving total for any expenses.
An avid hillwalker already, Sarah says she’s not too concerned about the trek itself, but admits she does have reservations about the journey to Nepal’s notorious Lukla Airport.
“I’m quite a bad flyer,” she explains, “And the airport where we’re going to start the trek, it’s apparently one of the most dangerous in the world with a really short runway. That’s the bit I’m most worried about.
“By doing this challenge, I wanted to show support as there’s no quick fix you can offer and just thought it would be great to raise funds and awareness.
“It’s already opened up conversations on epilepsy, which is just great.”