An intrepid doctor is preparing for a gruelling trek up the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere to raise cash for diabetes charities with the help of a private hospital.
Steve, from Tattenhall, in Cheshire, will be heading to Argentina in January 2014 to climb Aconcagua.
It will be the high point in Steve’s year-long Aim High campaign to help young people with diabetes, because he thinks they get a raw deal.
Spire Healthcare, which owns the private Spire Yale Hospital in Wrexham and Consulting Rooms in Abergele, are backing the cause with the purchase of a high spec sleeping bag to cope with temperatures as low as -25 Celcius.
Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Andes and the tallest mountain on earth outside of the Himalayas, standing 6,960 metres or 22,837ft high.
The cash raised by the Aim High Campaign with be split 50/50 between a ring-fenced fund for local young adults or teenagers who have chronic conditions, and the international charity Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, whose aim is to research for a cure to Type One Diabetes.
Sue Jones, the Manager of Spire Yale Hospital, was full of admiration for Steve in taking on the huge challenge.
She said: “It is typical of Steve to literally aim so high because he is passionate about his work, particularly with young adults with diabetes.
“We wish him all the very best in his attempt to climb Aconcagua and hope his endeavour will help raise a mountain of cash for such a deserving cause.”
In his job, Steve deals on a daily basis with young people who have diabetes. He’s been shocked by some of the stories he’s heard, and this inspired him to start the Aim High campaign.
He explained: “Young adults with Type One Diabetes get a very poor deal in many respects.
“Ignorance is often what leads people to give poor assistance to others with diabetes.
“For examples such as bosses telling workers not to bring their insulin in to work because it upsets the other workers are the kind of thing that I hear all of the time from my young patients and it’s something that needs tackling.
“Another common one is comments from workmates who suggest to the person with the diabetes that if they ate properly then they wouldn’t get diabetes. This couldn’t be further from the truth with Type One diabetes. It’s an autoimmune condition without any proven cause.
“I think diabetes is the most intrusive condition that you can have. It’s with you 24 hours a day, every single day.
“You have to think about it with every meal, every time you play sport or exercise and every time you drive. Its an issue for your relationships and your employment prospects.
“As well as taking the insulin injections 4-5 times per day patients have the blood sugar testing to do several times a day to ensure that they stay safe from both the diabetes but also the medication they take to treat it.
“All of this is before they have to consider the potential long term complications of diabetes As this condition alone is the most common cause of kidney failure, the blindness, and of non-traumatic amputations.
“I think that’s really pretty awful, and I think the more support we can give people the better.”
Steve is tremendously grateful to Spire Healthcare for their contribution to cause.
He said: “Spire Healthcare is sponsoring me for this essential piece of equipment which I’m tremendously pleased about.
“It was a very kind offer as the equipment that you need to go up Aconcagua is not like the stuff you would take for going to the Lake District or Snowdonia and this higher grade equipment costs money. The offer of some sponsorship towards kit from Spire Healthcare is very appreciated.”
Steve, who will be joined on the expedition by pal Brad Lincoln, from Blackburn, is not underestimating the challenge he faces.
He said: “The chance of getting up to the top could be as low as one in four.
“This mountain has been a particular ambition of mine for nine years now since I was very lucky to get asked to be the exhibition doctor on Diabetes UK charity walk up Kilimanjaro.
“While I was an experienced walker and had been to altitude before this was the first time I’d ever done anything quite so long and concentrated. I quite enjoyed it and thought I’d like to do something similar again at some point.
“Because Aconcagua is such a big mountain I thought the fundraising around it deserved a proper campaign so I could use it to raise awareness about an important health issue as well as raise money.
“I set myself a decent fundraising target of £10,000 somewhat arbitrarily but the campaign has already surpassed this considerably.
“In fact the campaign has been the real surprise. It’s been a real journey in itself.”
You can also send money to Steve at Spire Yale Hospital, Wrexham Technology Park, Croesnewydd Road, Wrexham, LL13 7YP