Dumbarton, Helensburgh and Loch Lomondside folk, not to mention TV personality Chris Kamara, are backing Petra and friends on their charity climb up the world’s highest mountain.
By Bill Heaney
Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton and Lomond, recently met representatives from Marie Curie to hear about the care they offer locally to people living with a terminal illness and their loved ones.
In the West of Scotland, around 13,050 people each year need palliative care to relieve symptoms and improve their quality of life. Last year, 1,034 patients and families were supported by the Marie Curie nursing team across NHS boards covering the local area and across the West of Scotland.
Thanking the Marie Curie Nurses who deliver hands-on care at homes across Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven and Helensburgh and Lomond Labour MSP Jackie Baillie also congratulated her constituents for their generous donations to the charity and encouraged continued support.
Jackie Baillie MSP said: “The work that Marie Curie carries out in our local area makes a hugely important contribution and improves the quality of patients lives. Their hands-on, personal care has made thousands of patients and families across Scotland feel supported and valued, during what is often a very difficult time.
“Local residents have made a fantastic effort to raise funds for Marie Curie over the years and the donations have helped with funding research as well as supplying high tech equipment for the hospices and employing more vital staff.”
Marie Curie Nurses helped over 95 percent of people last year across West Scotland NHS boards to die in their place of choice, which is often at home. The charity supports people with all terminal conditions including cancer, heart disease, dementia, MND and others.
Richard Meade, Head of Policy and Public Affairs for Marie Curie Scotland said: “Thank you to Jackie for highlighting the vital care and support terminally ill people need.
“We want everyone to have physical and emotional care to help them live as well as they can with terminal illness. At the end of life, that should also mean people have as much choice as possible and with Marie Curie support the difference might be that they can stay at home and spend precious time with loved ones.”
95 percent of patients in NHS Ayrshire and Arran, and 97 percent of patients NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde supported by Marie Curie died in their place of choice. Source: Marie Curie
Petra McMillan, who owns the Dumbuck Hotel in Dumbarton; Alchemy Inns and Alchemy Drinks with husband Tommy, an ex footballer with Scotland and Dundee United.
She has, along with family and friends including nephew Ryan, raised more than £500,000 for Marie Curie over the past decade through a series of sporting challenges.
They are to be joined on the expedition by another 25 British climbers, many of whom took on Mount Kilimanjaro alongside Petra.
The team’s efforts could raise around £123,000 for Marie Curie and, with £20 paying for an hour of care, such a total would cover the cost of around 6150 hours of nursing care.
The illness can set in from 2000 metres and, with Everest’s base camp perched at four times the height of Ben Nevis, it’s likely the climbers will be forced to endure many days of discomfort as their bodies struggle to acclimatise to the conditions, which could drop to as low as -20C.
Petra said: “It’s a really tough challenge and we have no way of knowing if we’ll make it but we’re doing it for a great cause and that will really motivate us to dig in.
“So many people are tackling challenges and asking for support , so I’ve always felt the need to strive for tougher goals which might capture the public’s imagination.
The quest to ascend Everest is undoubtedly Petra’s toughest mission.
Petra explained: “Kilimanjaro was six days, this is 11, so you’ve got almost double the time at altitude and the temperatures are much lower.
“There’s a cumulative day-on-day effect of having to maintain your strength and stamina for that duration which is really quite challenging.
“Even when you’re sleeping you’re burning, burning, burning so it’s a constant battle when you’re on the hill, trying to take on enough food to have the strength to do what you’re asking your body to do but at the same time you don’t want to eat because you feel so nauseous.”
Fortunately, the team will rest slightly easier at night in their plywood shed ‘teahouses’ knowing that three of its members are doctors.
Offering some words of encouragement to her team, Petra added: “When you think about it, you’re actually walking on the rooftop of the world.
“The scope of these mountains and the enormity and scale of them compared to tiny little you is very humbling.
“When the horrible times come calling and someone needs care, it’s thanks to events such as this that the money is in the bank and the Marie Curie nursing is there.”
And they are off on the experience of a lifetime …
Petra McMillan and Jenny Sampson give the thumbs up as they left Edinburgh Airport for Singapore last night. Picture by Gwen Erika Hunter
- Anyone can receive free support through the Marie Curie Information and Support Line on 0800 090 2309 or visit mariecurie.org.uk/help. If you are interested in getting involved in local fundraising with Marie Curie, please contact Sara Murray firstname.lastname@example.org, or to find out more about Marie Curie’s local Helper service please contact Katie Wardlaw email@example.com To donate, visit . For more information on Marie Curie, go to