A father-of-two who thought his days of climbing mountains were over is looking forward to reaching the summit of Mount Snowdon once more.
Mark Berry loved hiking, regularly making trips to Scotland and climbing the highest mountain in Wales around a dozen times.
But the 57-year-old sustained a spinal cord injury in 2016, a complication from an operation to remove a tumour, and now uses a wheelchair.
The last time he reached the summit of Snowdon was in October 2017, when he travelled there by train.
Now Mark will be doing the climb once more, this time using a specially adapted wheelchair and accompanied by his two sons, work colleagues and friends.
Mark, who lives in Astley, said: “When I went up on that train two years ago, it seemed impossible. I was watching people hiking up as we were going on up. I had a bit of sadness about times past but I have to move on.”
He is now aiming to reach the summit of Snowdon, which stands at 3,560ft, to raise funds for Back Up, a national charity supporting people affected by spinal cord injury.
Mark will lead a team of 15 people who will be lifting, pulling and carrying his wheelchair to get him to the top.
He said: “It’s totally different. I will be in my chair all the way up and all the way down. Ordinarily I don’t allow people to push me in my chair because I am fiercely independent: if I need help, I will ask for it. This will be a tough one for me, having to be pushed. I want to go up there myself which is impossible.”
Mark will be joined by a team which includes sons Matthew, 28, and Stephen, 25, plus friends he used to go hiking with, colleagues from the Salford school where he works as a premises manager and people in other parts of the country.
It will be a full team effort as they use ropes to manoeuvre the wheelchair along the eight-mile route. And he is looking forward to reaching the summit once more: “I can’t wait for that. I think when I get up there, I might even shed a tear for the sheer determination of what we have done to get to the top.”
He hopes his team will be the first in the event to scale Snowdon and he wants to inspire members who have not hiked before to take up the hobby.
Mark is taking on the June 22 challenge after surgery to remove a tumour from his spinal cord, which means he now has to use a chair whenever he leaves the house. He still enjoys going out with dog Jess and swimming at least three times a week.
He hopes to raise £2,000 for Back Up, which supported after the op. The charity offers wheelchair skills training, a mentoring service, proactive telephone support, life skills and activity courses, and supports returning to work or education.
Mark said: “When I was in the spinal unit in Southport, they came in to give us wheelchair skills. If you have never been in a wheelchair before, it is really difficult - you don’t know how difficult it is until you are in there. You have to get up kerbs and down and everyday wheeling about.”
Mark’s fund-raising page can be found at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Mark-Berry14.