Paula and Gavin gear up for Ben Nevis challenge

In training: Paula and Gavin Johnston get on their bikes as they prepare for the Ben Nevis climb to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Society.  Pic by Stephen Kernohan

In training: Paula and Gavin Johnston get on their bikes as they prepare for the Ben Nevis climb to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Society. Pic by Stephen Kernohan

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NEWTOWNABBEY siblings Paula and Gavin Johnston are in training for a mountainous charity challenge later this year.

Paula from Rathcoole and Gavin from Rushpark will attempt to reach the summit of the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, in September to raise vital funds for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Over the next few months, they’re each aiming to raise £1,000 to help the charity provide vital services for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Paula and Gavin’s late grandmother had Alzheimer’s and their grandfather, who has the same condition, is currently living in a care home where he receives specialist nursing care.

“It’s a cause that’s very, very close to both our hearts,” Paula explained. “Unfortunately I don’t think my granda will still be alive by the time we do the climb, so we could well be doing it in memory of my granny and granda.”

Paula (37) and Gavin (31) have been following a strict fitness plan over the past few months involving walking, cycling and gym work - essential preparation for the eight-hour climb to the 4,400ft summit, and the four-hour hike back down.

“We really need to raise more awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia and raise funds to pay for early detection services,” Paula continued. “By the time a lot of people are diagnosed it’s too late. The medication that’s available for Alzheimer’s doesn’t work at that stage, but if it’s detected earlier the medication can slow it dramatically.”

The determined duo have already received great support from Gavin’s employer, Hendersons, who have generously donated £400 to the cause. They have also received backing from Jordanstown Real Estate and are hopeful that several other local businesses will help them reach their fundraising total.

Anyone who would like to help Paula or Gavin with their fundraising efforts can make a donation online at www.justgiving.co.uk/Paula-Johnston1