Retired teacher takes to the mountains to cope with pain of wife going into care

Retired teacher Nick Gardner (81) was devastated by his wife’s move into full-time care due to her declining health caused by Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 12:46 pm
Updated Friday, 21st May 2021, 12:59 pm
Nick Gardner is regularly joined on his climbs by Ross Hyslop from Lanark
Nick Gardner is regularly joined on his climbs by Ross Hyslop from Lanark

Nick from Aultbae set himself a challenge to climb all of Scotland’s 282 Munros to both honour his wife Janet (83), and for his own mental health and well-being.

He said: “I couldn’t look after Janet anymore and I was so upset and it felt like life was over. I was absolutely bereft.

"I knew that I had to find a focus on something to give me a reason to get up each day, to give me back a sense of purpose, something that would last a long time.

"I needed a real challenge. Initially, the impetus was completely for my own benefit, my own mental health.

"Then I read about a daughter of an Alzheimer’s sufferer who had set out to walk and raise £10,000 for the charity that helped her mum and the idea was born.”

Ten months in and 87 Munros complete, Nick has raised over £26,000.

On his second Munro came a chance encounter with mental health and addiction specialist, Ross Hyslop from Lanark.

Ross is currently setting up a new business, Scout and About which combines climbing Munros and camping out with counselling.

He said. “I am totally inspired by Nick’s quiet determination and his steady, strong pace, he has become a mentor and good friend.

"We regularly hook up for climbs and all of my team have completely fallen in love with him.

"Nick regularly gets recognised on climbs now and is generous with his advice and encouragement with novice climbers too.”

As part of Mental Health Awareness month, Nick and Ross are heading up a team of 20 climbers to do the Three Peak Challenge.

Starting at Ben Nevis car park today (Friday) at 5pm, they will be climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon within 24 hours to raise more money for Alzheimers Scotland and the Royal Osteoporosis Charity.

Nick said: “Losing Janet has been the biggest mountain I have had to climb, but my Munros challenge has given me a great focus.

"I am so grateful for all the support and new friends I have made along the way.”