Claudy woman Zara Brown had no sooner finished her final degree exams than she was off climbing 5,565m to Mount Everest basecamp in Nepal to raise funds for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland.
The 23-year-old mechanical engineering graduate took up the challenge and raised almost £2,500 for the charity in memory of her great aunt Dorothy Thompson.
Dorothy, who passed away from cancer five years ago, founded the Claudy Combat Cancer fundraisers, the former name of the Claudy Cancer Focus NI fundraising group which has raised many thousands of pounds for Cancer Focus NI over the decades. Now Zara is continuing the tradition.
“Cancer Focus NI is a charity I’m very familiar with. My great aunt founded our local Combat Cancer group about 37 years ago and other members of my family got involved over the years,” said Zara.
“When I was growing up, I went along to many coffee mornings and fundraisers and made tea for people taking part in vintage rallies. My job, along with my sister Lynsey, was counting the money.
“Sadly, my Auntie Dorothy passed away five years ago from cancer at the age of 69. She lived just across the road and often looked after us. She was a very special person who taught me many life lessons and is the source of my drive and determination for many things I do.”
Zara has recently returned from her trip to Nepal which she said was amazing. “I would go back tomorrow. I’ve always enjoyed keeping fit and did the Duke of Edinburgh Award at school but I’d never done anything like this before.
“I did a bit of training before I set off but it was my final year at college so I didn’t have a chance to do more. As soon as my exams were over, I was off. I didn’t have much time to think about it.
“It was a hard enough climb but we met so many lovely people and the scenery was amazing. Next, I’m planning to climb the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who made a donation to my trek. All the money I raised stays in Northern Ireland to help local cancer patients and their families.”
Cancer Focus NI provides a wide range of care and support services for local cancer patients and their families, carries out cancer prevention work in local schools, workplaces and in the community, funds research and advocates for better health policy.
If you have any worries about cancer, call the Cancer Focus NI free NurseLine on 0800 783 3339 and speak to a specialist nurse, Mon-Fri, 9am to 1pm, or email Nurseline@cancerfocusni.org.