Supergran is first female wheelchair user to ‘climb’ the Three Peaks

Mary Lamb, 65, suffered a chest infection, stomach bug and was ‘10 minutes away from hypothermia’ during the gruelling three-day challenge. But she battled through it to reach the summit of all three mountains – Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon – with the help of the British Army and her assistance dog Sheldon.

“Honest to God, I don’t know how I got through it,” said Mary. “I was told it couldn’t be done and so I was just going to do it and that was all there was to it. You just push on through. If I say I’m going to do something, I’ll do it!”  

Mary’s ‘dream team’ was made up of her three friends Sian Cuthbertson, Jill Tinsley and Kev Pearson, husband Mike and Jamie Macdonald, from Dogs For Good.

They drove to each mountain in a Kodiaq SUV, provided by Škoda, and soldiers from various Corps, Regiments and Units of the Army, led by Capt James Martin of the Royal Engineers, and Mountain Leader Sgt Chris Gooch, from the Mercian Regiment.

Together, they battled harsh weather including freezing temperatures, gale force winds and driving rain along with treacherous terrain, which broke Mary’s specially adapted trike several times, forcing them to make repairs as they went.

“It was very dangerous because there are sheer drops along the way,” said Mary. The lads caught me several times as I was falling out of my chair and I was left black and blue by the whole thing, but it was worth it.”

The grandmother of nine, from Wirral, has been in a wheelchair since 2007 after she was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.  But she has been given her independence back with the help of four consecutive assistance dogs from charity Dogs for Good who are supported by Škoda.

Her current dog Sheldon helps with everything, from doing the washing and shopping to helping her undress at night and changing the bed as well as being a companion.

And it was the desire to give someone else the chance to have one of these assistance dogs that spurred Mary on during her challenge over June 12,13 and 14 when things were bleak.  

“The Army nearly called it a day on Scafell Pike,” said Mary. It had taken us 15 hours to reach the top of Ben Nevis and so we drove through the night to get to Scafell to begin our climb.  

“We hadn’t slept and we were all exhausted and then we all came down with a stomach bug. People were being sick. It was awful but we all still carried on.

 “At the top of Scafell you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. It was raining, there was sleet, one of the guys got knocked off his feet by the wind and another had a boulder fall on his leg.

“I was cold. The lads said I was ‘Army cold’ and believe you me, you don’t want that! I started shivering and shaking and behind me the lads were quite concerned especially when I went quiet because I never shut up!  

“It was horrible and a tough moment. As I was coming down the mountain I was thinking to myself ‘I don’t like this! I wish I hadn’t done it’.

“They told me afterwards that they weren’t happy and that I was 10mins away from hypothermia and them stopping the challenge, but I was determined to carry on. I was going to finish no matter what.

“So they got me down and wrapped me up in sleeping bags and gave me hot tea and we drove to Wales. We had a quick sleep and then began to climb the final mountain – Snowdon.”

Mary, who has so far raised more than £10,000 for Dogs For Good, was overwhelmed with the messages of support she got from fellow walkers as she ‘pushed and pulled’ herself to the top of each peak.

She said: “We met lots of people coming down the mountain saying ‘go on Mary!’ People cheered and clapped us. It was amazing. They were saying ‘bloody hell, if you can do it, I can do it’.”

To keep spirits up, Mary and her lads had ‘loads of banter’ and they sang a rather apt song as they climbed – ‘Proud Mary’. “They had to keep my wheels turning,” joked Mary. “They were fantastic and I couldn’t have done this without them.

Mary is now recovering at home following her incredible achievement and already plotting her next charity fundraiser. “The whole experience has been like a dream and I’ll never forget it.”

You can donate to Mary’s challenge here.

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