Claire conquers the Ben Nevis challenge

Claire McCollum stands triumphantly, with her mum Margaret, having successfully reached the 4,408ft summit of Ben Nevis in aid of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland. INNT 34-624con
Claire McCollum stands triumphantly, with her mum Margaret, having successfully reached the 4,408ft summit of Ben Nevis in aid of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland. INNT 34-624con

TV presenter and Jordanstown woman Claire McCollum recently led the way in a BenHer all-women climb up Ben Nevis in aid of charity Cancer Focus NI.

The mum-of-two conquered the mountain earlier in the summer, along with her mother Margaret.

She said: “I was really honoured to be asked to take part in the BenHer Challenge and meet so many inspirational women who were all doing their bit for Cancer Focus. We had a fantastic time, despite the rain, and I’m just so thrilled to say that I have now climbed Ben Nevis.

“I was first asked to do the Ben Nevis challenge six years ago but shortly after I agreed to do it I found out I was pregnant with my first child, Samuel, so climbing up a mountain was definitely out of the question, but when I was asked this time round I jumped at the chance.”

Claire particularly wanted to support Cancer Focus because of her family experience.

She continued: “My grandmother died from breast cancer before my mum and dad were even married, so sadly I never got the chance to meet her.

“My mum was only 21 at the time she lost her own mum and I know they missed out on a lot of precious time together. I will always wonder what she was like and I know mum would have loved my sister Kelly and I to meet her too.

“My Auntie Flo also died from cancer. Watching her struggle for so long with the illness was very hard for the whole family.

“Seeing a loved one die from such a horrible illness is something that stays with us all. However, with advances in research and treatment we are now able to be more positive and hopeful.”

Claire used the challenge to improve her own fitness levels.

“I was really looking forward to the challenge although I was slightly nervous as I’ve always made every excuse in the book to avoid exercise,” she explained.

“For BenHer I did a good bit of walking - it was all about building up my fitness levels.

“There was great camaraderie between all the women on the challenge and we encouraged each other to keep going until we reached the summit. We all made it to the top and had the chance to celebrate our achievements that evening.”

For the challenge, Claire held a fundraising coffee morning with her mother, raising a fantastic £2,219.93 for the charity.

Claire is now urging people of all ages and fitness levels to sign up to the charity’s next Ben Nevis climb this September, 14 to 16.

Everyone who signs up will be sent a complete fundraising pack as well as a guide to any equipment that they may need. Participants are asked to make a deposit of £50 and raise a minimum sponsorship of £595.

For more information contact Sarah Atcheson on 028 9068 0765 or email sarahatcheson@cancerfocusni.org.