LONDON (AP) – Eventually Margaret Payne climbed her mountain step by step.
The 90-year-old grandmother who started an epic climb to raise money for a good cause completed her fundraiser on Tuesday. Paybe climbed the stairs at her house the equivalent of 731 meters (2,398 feet) – enough to reach the top of Scotland’s iconic Suilven mountain.
Payne, from Ardvar in the Scottish Highlands, calculated that climbing 282 stairs from her stairs would lead her to the top of a mountain she climbed only once when she was 15.
“I climbed a few flights of stairs every day until I reached the top 282 times,” Payne told The Associated Press. The feat took her 73 days and kept her going for 10 weeks, while the UK was sheltered from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Payne took up the challenge after being inspired by military veteran Tom Moore, who completed 100 rounds in his yard just before his 100th birthday to raise money for the National Health Service. The performance enchanted the closed nation, and Moore eventually raised about £ 33 million ($ 40 million).
Payne’s daughter, Nicky McArthur, watched his performance on television and said to her mother, “Look what Tom does. We need to change something about your stairs. ”
Suddenly, Payne’s regular exercise routine on wet and windy Scottish days was turned into her own fundraiser for the NHS in gratitude for the care for her husband, Jim, which he received before dying on Christmas Day last year. Three other charities, NHS Highlands, Highlands Hospice and RNL will also benefit.
Her desire to help struck a chord in a country where 42,927 people died with the coronavirus and the NHS efforts have been heralded as nothing short of heroic.
Payne has raised £ 416,000 ($ 521,000), much of which came from small donations from people struggling with the pandemic. Among her many fans are Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, who wrote Payne to praise her achievements.
“There could hardly be a better example of this indomitable spirit than your own tremendous efforts to raise money for vital charities,” Charles wrote. “It is people like you who show that for every hardship there has been a hero, or of course a heroine.”
Payne seemed pretty happy with completing her epic climb, in part because it helped her show herself what she could do, get past her own personal grief, and help others. Her phone sometimes rings with journalists, sometimes it’s just people who want to encourage her.
“I can’t imagine ever doing something like this again,” Payne said. “But I think when you get old, it’s important not to sit back and think ‘I’m getting old, I can just relax’. If you want to continue, you have to stay active and keep walking. ”
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