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Woman, 90, passes halfway point of ‘mountain’ staircase fundraiser

Margaret Payne was inspired by 100-year-old Captain Tom Moore to raise money during the coronavirus outbreak.

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Margaret Payne has raised more than £325,500 so far (PA)

Margaret Payne has raised more than £325,500 so far (PA)

Margaret Payne has raised more than £325,500 so far (PA)

A 90-year-old woman raising money by climbing her stairs has said she is looking forward to a “good rest at the summit”, as she passed the halfway point of her “mountain” challenge.

Margaret Payne, from Ardvar in Sutherland, was inspired by 100-year-old Captain Tom Moore, who has raised almost £33 million for the NHS by walking laps of his garden.

Mrs Payne has pledged to climb the height of Suilven, which is expected to require 282 trips up the stairs.

Having started on Easter Sunday, she has now reached the halfway point – completing 141 flights and climbing 365m (1,199ft) – and smashing her £10,000 fundraising target by more than 30 times.

She told the PA news agency: “I have definitely become a bit quicker, which must mean I am a bit stronger.

“But I have to pace myself because my knees ache.

“The response has been absolutely wonderful, the amount of money we have had donated has been incredible.”

Mrs Payne added: “I am completely overwhelmed and humbled by the generosity of everyone who has donated to this amazing cause.

“I would like to thank each and every one for their heart-warming messages of support and generous donations, which are providing greatly appreciated encouragement as I slowly but surely make my way up the mountain.

“I am very much looking forward to enjoying a good rest at the summit, and celebrating with my family and chosen charities.”

To reach the summit, Mrs Payne vowed to climb 731m (2,398ft), which equates to 282 flights of her staircase, with each flight containing 17 steps.

As of Wednesday, she had raised more than £325,000 for the NHS, Highland Hospice and RNLI.

Local mountain Suilven bears great significance to Mrs Payne as it is the only peak she has ever climbed due to persistent knee problems throughout her life.

She first reached the summit in 1944 aged 15, with her elder sister Elizabeth, two friends and dog Snowy after being evacuated to Lochinver during the Second World War.

To donate to Mrs Payne’s challenge, visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MargaretPayneArdvar-SuilvenChallenge.

PA