Fundraising Bill proves he has a head for heights

A DETERMINED Larne man has conquered the UK’s biggest tallest peak for the second time – just five years after undergoing a double hip replacement.

Bill Guiller, who was unable to walk following the surgery, scaled Ben Nevis on Saturday, September 15 as part of a fundraising drive for Cancer Focus NI (formerly the Ulster Cancer Foundation).

Back in 2010, the 46-year-old took on the Ben Nevis Challenge for the first time, raising the fantastic sum of £1,500 in the process.

And Bill has managed to surpass his previous success with his year’s event, securing a final total of £1,700.

“A good portion of that was raised during a movie-themed fancy dress night in Larne Masonic Club recently, and I want to say a big thank you to all those who attended and donated to the cause,” he added.

The father-of-three has a keen personal interest in supporting this particular charity, having lost a close friend and a relative to the disease in recent years.

“Cancer Focus NI are doing great work and the Ben Nevis Challenge is an ideal way to support them and raise awareness about a cause that I am passionate about,” Bill said.

“Having completed the challenge before, I felt more confident this time and was able to enjoy it a bit more and take in the breathtaking scenery.”

Bill has encouraged local people to think about having a go at next year’s challenge. “It is definitely something I would recommend to others and I intend to climb Ben Nevis for a third time next year.

“Taking part in this event is not only a great way to improve your health and fitness, but more importantly a brilliant way to raise much needed funds for local cancer patients and their families.”

The average ascent of Ben Nevis takes around five hours and three hours to come down. The maximum gradient is 1:5, so there is no strenuous climbing involved, and most people should have no problem reaching the summit - which stands at 4,408ft - and enjoying the breathtaking views of the Western Isles.

Bill is also planning to up the ante next year by taking part in the Celtic Mountain Challenge, which sees participants take on the four highest peaks highest peaks in Ireland – Slieve Donard in Co Down, Errigal in Co Donegal, Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo and Lugnaquilla in Co Wicklow.

Rosie Hassin, community fundraising officer for Cancer Focus said: “At Cancer Focus we understand that there is little that causes as much anxiety and stress as a diagnosis of cancer.

“There are currently 55,000 families in Northern Ireland living with cancer and around 11,000 people are newly diagnosed each year. Our role is to make that time of extreme stress a little more bearable by providing a range of care services for cancer patients.

“All funds raised for Cancer Focus are spent locally and help support people with cancer in Northern Ireland.”