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Former professional rugby player turned adaptive adventurer Ed Jackson summited Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) on Sunday, marking the five-year anniversary since he first took on the challenge in 2018 – just 12 months after being told he may never walk again.
Ed was joined by 10 beneficiaries and 40 supporters of the Millimetres 2 Mountains Foundation he co-founded with his wife Lois, on their mission to help others facing adversity through the healing powers of outdoor adventure. Each beneficiary took on the challenge as part of their personal recovery process from spinal cord injuries and other life-impacting traumas, following in the footsteps of Ed’s own rehabilitation from a spinal cord injury as the result of an accident in 2017.
‘Climbing Snowdon on the 2nd April 2018 changed my life,’ Ed said. ‘I realised anything is possible, it set me on a mission to help others, and it planted the seed for Lois and I to start Millimetres 2 Mountains. It’s now come full circle. To witness so many people who at one point thought their lives were over, not just climb the highest mountain in Wales but support each other through it was just magical.’
This was the best and most important day of my life, a new way to turn the page and show the world that becoming disabled is not the end
For some participants, this was their first attempt at climbing a mountain post-spinal cord injury, including Millimetres 2 Mountains beneficiary Charlotte Florence. Charlotte suffered a major injury to her L2 vertebrae that left shards of bone lodged in her spinal cord after a quad bike accident in Costa Rica which meant she had to re-learn to walk.
‘This was the best and most important day of my life, a new way to turn the page and show the world that becoming disabled is not the end,’ she said. ‘I would never have been able to do it without Ed and Lois and their amazing charity, and the support of the 50 people who climbed with us and were clapping while I was leading the way to the summit.’
Yr Wyddfa was the first event in the charity’s Together Outdoors programme – six walks hosted by Millimetres 2 Mountains across England & Wales in 2023, designed to promote the health benefits of getting outdoors for mental health after trauma. The ascent was also a training trip for Millimetres 2 Mountains ambassadors Darren Edwards and Niall McCann, for their upcoming fundraising challenge to cross Vatnajokull Glacier together with Ed, in an attempt to become the first all-disabled team to do so. Paraplegic adventurer Darren reached the top of Yr Wyddfa in his adapted wheelchair, with support from the M2M team.
‘Snowdon was the first mountain I climbed, aged 16, and a mountain that has held a special place in my heart since that first ascent many years ago,’ said Darren. ‘To return to the summit for the first time since my climbing accident in 2016 was incredibly profound, and to do it alongside the Millimetres 2 Mountains team and its inspiring beneficiaries was a truly special moment. I am so proud to be an ambassador for M2M, and to do whatever I can to help those on their own recovery journey.’
Ed summiting Yr Wyddfa in 2018, one year post-spinal cord injury
Paraplegic adventurer Darren reached the top of Yr Wyddfa in his adapted wheelchair
Millimetres 2 Mountains is a non-profit foundation that supports individuals in their recovery from life-impacting trauma, through outdoor adventure, life coaching and grants towards physiotherapy and retraining. The charity currently supports 23 beneficiaries as part of its three-year programme, providing them with the opportunity to take on international expeditions in locations such as Jordan, Norway and Nepal.
In 2023, Millimetres 2 Mountains launched its Together Outdoors programme, encouraging public involvement in six walks across the UK, to promote the mental health benefits of getting outdoors following trauma.
For more information on ways you can get involved, access to community grants or to support the foundation, visit their website. To read more about Ed, Darren and Niall’s upcoming expedition to Iceland, check out this article on BASE.
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