Noel’s sky-high climb

Lady Noel Collum

Lady Noel Collum

First published in Women Actually

A 73-year-old widow who is terrified of heights will set off next week to climb a 22,500-foot Himalayan mountain to raise money for charity.

Lady Noel Collum had hoped to scale Mera Peak in Nepal last year but had to postpone it after a fall.

After immediately vowing to try again this year, she plans to set off from her home, Clinton Lodge Garden in Fletching, on Friday September 5 to spend three weeks heading for the mountain's peak accompanied by guides and porters.

Lady Collum, the widow of Sir Hugh Collum, a chairman of British Nuclear Fuels who died in 2005 after a fall at home, made her first mountain climb at the age of 70. In memory of her husband, she took on the daunting challenge of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa, and in 2011 climbed Mont Blanc in the French Alps with a friend.

“I have to keep going,” said Lady Collum. “There are risks – but there are always risks in life and you can't protect yourself from them or you would never do anything.

“I have been preparing myself for Mera Peak by exercising, and preparing for it has been like a military operation. I am very determined to do this and I shall be extremely pleased if I succeed.

“In my mind, this is my last big challenge.”

Lady Collum finds coming down hill more painful than going up because she has a number of metal pins in both feet following surgery. “Going uphill is always exhilarating but because of my feet there is a plan for me to abseil back down part of Mera Peak,” she said.

The challenge has been taken up by Lady Collum to raise money for the charity Friends of Sussex Hospices, which raises money towards the running costs of 12 hospice care providers it supports across Sussex.

To support Lady Collum and Friends of Sussex Hospices, visit her JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/noelcollummerapeak

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