Climbing mountains for charity has almost become predictable, a bit of an endurance cliche even, but not when it comes to Dr Nigel Hart, who is putting on his best trainers to stride up and down Slieve Donard precisely 10.4 times on June 4-5 for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
But why the unusual number of ascents? The 46-year-old Crossgar GP has already done Everest and wanted to cover the same ground but nearer home.
“It’s a mad undertaking but I was part of a medical team that climbed Everest for a 2007 Horizon programme on research into hypoxia — low oxygen in the blood — and it was a pretty elating experience, so I thought I’d do the same distance for Marie Curie, but in the Mournes,” he says.
Dr Hart is even replicating Everest base camp in the Donard car park, with a little help from his relatives. “We’ve got a camper van courtesy of Cyril Johnson & Co of Carryduff and it will be staffed by my trusty nephew and niece, Marcus Hart and Naomi Watson.” Cheering from the sidelines will be wife Caroline and children Patrick (16), Sophia (14) and Connor (12).
On a more serious note, Dr Hart says that his experience in treating seriously ill patients has persuaded him that this charity is genuinely worthy of support.
“Marie Curie’s my motivation since as a GP I come into contact with people in parlous situations and I know that they give fantastic support to patients and families. From my experience, in the majority of cases, we can help people die at home, which many people desire, surrounded by family and symptom-free,” he says.
Fell walker Nigel says he also wanted the physical challenge. “It isn’t as demanding as the months of training for Everest but I have been putting in extra effort and hope to finish in around 30 hours.”