Southwold nurse’s mountain challenge

A north Suffolk community nurse has scaled new heights and faced the worst day in her life at the same time to help her patients receive care at home.

Cathy Ryan of the Southwold Surgery, Southwold, has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in just the space of seven days to raise funds for the surgery's charity carers fund.

Ms Ryan, 54, raised at least �5,000 from her arduous mountain and the money will be used by Ms Ryan to provide some of her patients with 24 hour care or support at their homes which is not provided by the NHS.

Yesterday Ms Ryan was back at work for first time at the surgery in York Road after her African climb which she completed on her own on September 20 with just the help of a guide and porters.

Although Ms Ryan spent six months preparing for her climb by walking up to 15 miles a day in the Suffolk countryside, nothing could have really prepared her for what lay ahead as she tackled the 15,100ft mountain.

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To reach the summit she had to battle bitterly cold conditions and cope with the very high altitude – which led to her facing the hardest day of her life on the third day of her climb, Ms Ryan said 'That day was the worst day of me life. I was exhausted.

'I mentally and physically had hit a barrier. I had some many negative thoughts running through my mind.'

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However Ms Ryan's guide Isaac encouraged her on by reminding her what would happen if she turned back.

Ms Ryan said: 'Isaac told me How are you going to live with failure?

'I then thought I have never failed at anything and carried on.'

Ms Ryan was also spurred on by the memory of her mother May, who died 83 five years ago and of her patients who had died in the last year. But Ms Ryan's efforts were then rewarded.

She said: 'The highlight was on the final night when I could see a trillion stars in the sky and a red moon. I have never seen anything like it before – it was amazing.'

Another highlight of her climb when a 'sweet' silver vole sat on her.

Summing up her Mount Kilimanjaro experience Ms Jones said: 'For me, this was never about just climbing a mountain. I have been challenged to extremes,

'I have faced some demons, but mostly I have learnt what was is really important and special in my life. My path seems clearer and happier.

It was Ms Ryan's third charity challenge to raise funds for the Southwold Surgery's carers fund.

She has completed a 60-mile Sandlings walk along the Suffolk coast and cycled across India for the charity she founded three years ago.

At the moment there are about 90 people on the books of the carers fund, which offers support and help outside the remit of the NHS so people can stay at their homes instead of going into hospital or care.

As an example of the fund's work, Ms Ryan helped a woman in a wheelchair who was on her own by paying for someone to stay with her every night.

Anyone who wants to support Ms Ryan's fund-raising efforts is asked to send cheques to Southwold Surgery Carers Fund, c/o Cathy Ryan, York Road, Southwold, IP18 6AN.

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