March 10 2014 Latest news:
by Tom Payne
Sunday, January 19, 2014
When two old friends found themselves in desperate need of a special car for their severely disabled son, Neil Revens set himself his biggest challenge yet.
The Hampstead estate agent decided he would raise thousands of pounds by climbing the UK’s three highest mountains in three days.
At the heart of this challenge was six-year-old Freddie O’Reilly, whose parents, Jon and Debbie, have known Neil for two decades.
Freddie, who lives with his parents in Hertfordshire, has Angelman syndrome – a rare genetic condition affecting the nervous system – which gives him problems with his speech and movement, as well as triggering seizures.
When Neil, 50, discovered the O’Reillys could not afford to kit out a new car with the specialist facilities needed to transport Freddie, he pledged to take on the notorious Three Peaks Challenge to raise the funds.
The challenge involves dangerous and gruelling hikes up England, Scotland and Wales’s highest mountains – Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis and Snowdon.
Neil, who works for Whitestone Estates, Heath Street, said: “Freddie’s consultant advised them to buy a climate-controlled car because he has about 20 to 30 fits a day if he’s not within a certain controlled environment.
“To buy the necessary equipment for the car they needed to raise £12,000 – which they didn’t have. Being a letting and management agent you tend to have a loyal and trusted bunch of clients.
“I wrote to all of them and the response was enormous. I didn’t have any problems raising that money. I told people who I was doing it for and they just put their hands in their pockets. People were very generous.”
The father-of-three, who lives in Hertfordshire, took on the challenge last June and successfully completed it within the three-day limit.
He said: “It was very hard. Ben Nevis was challenging because there was an hour-and-a-half of walking through six inches of snow.
“[But] the view was spectacular, and we were incredibly lucky to have no cloud. It was an incredibly emotional moment.”
Nick was inspired to take on the challenge after his experience raising money for his nephew, who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Having raised the impressive £12,000 target, he enjoyed an emotional moment with Freddie’s parents. “They were ecstatic,” he said. “They’ve had a hard life and I have an enormous amount of sympathy for them.”