The Power of the Fells – Family Testimonial – Margaret Gray

The Power of the Fells

A Family Testimonial by Hospice at Home Trustee Margaret Gray

John and I moved to Cumbria in the summer of 2017 – we knew his diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease was life limiting but we were both keen to live in this beautiful county for as long as possible and enjoy the natural beauty of the fells, lakes and countryside.


John wanted to do as much as he could even though walking soon became an issue and he needed to be in a wheelchair from December 2017. John was keen to take any opportunities to get out and about and was able and happy to use the Trampers available at some National Trust places and Whinlatter Forest Park. We heard about Freedom Wizard from my sister in law Cathy as she had met Allie as she walked in the fells and we got in touch with her. Allie had this fantastic all terrain Boma wheelchair in which she took people up into the fells. Of course only certain ones were accessible but definitely much better than doing nothing.



Our first adventure with Allie was to ascend Latrigg Fell in June 2018, and the smile on Johns face was fabulous. The views over Derwent Water were spectacular. Later we went up Sale Fell with her and though quite bumpy for John it was another achievement. These were my first two logged Wainwrights and I vowed to complete the remaining 212. I knew that John would not be able to do many more, but his determination to do what he could within his capabilities spurred me on, and continues to do so. To date I have climbed 116 Wainwrights so well over half way.


John’s condition got worse over 2018 and we began to need more help. We had great support from all the NHS, social services and the Motor Neurone Disease Society. As time went on we were referred to the local Hospice Services and John attended the Day Hospice in Penrith which has now sadly closed. When we needed help at night this is where Hospice at Home came in and we had fantastic overnight support which then moved into day time care. John enjoyed the visits by the staff who always treated him as a person, and were patient with him as his voice was affected and he used aids on his I-Pad to speak. The staff were kind and supportive to me as well, and John and I both benefitted from the care given including complementary therapy. Sadly John died in February 2019 July just 18 months after moving here.


Walking in the fells helped me hugely and I continued ticking off the Wainwrights with my good friends, Jenny, Tom and Alison. I returned to work as a nurse locally and also decided to offer my time as a Trustee for Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland. I felt as a previous carer and user of the services as well as my previous NHS experience I could give something back to the service that helped John and I so much.


I have very much enjoyed getting involved with the business side of the charity and am very interested as it grows and develops based on the current demands within the local community. My next challenge for Hospice at Home is taking part in The Summit at Sunset Walk up Blencathra in August. I understand there are good numbers of people signed up for this and therefore a great promotional and fundraising event.

Summit at Sunset

If you would like to join Margaret and the other walkers that have already signed up, please click here:

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