Reaching the top of Ben Nevis is quite a feat under any circumstances – but imagine taking on the challenge at the age of 70 ... and being both blind and deaf.
That’s just what Michael Anderson will do on Thursday, July 21, in an attempt to raise £3000 for Deafblind Scotland and help it build a new facility in Lenzie.
“I feel confident about it,” he said. “Some people say it’s quite easy, some say it’s hard. but I hope the weather stays dry at least.”
It’s just the latest in a series of challenges Michael has faced in his life.
Born in Surrey, he came to Campbell Drive, Larbert, in 2001 after spending most of his life in Berwick.
“I was born with a hearing impairment but my sight didn’t start to be a problem until I was 13,’’ he explained. ‘‘I started suffering from what is known as tunnel vision, although it really didn’t have an impact until my early 30s.”
By the time he turned 40 he had no vision at all.
“My hearing is deteriorating now, but not at the same rate my sight did,’’ he added. ‘‘I have to wear quite powerful hearing aids.”
Michael worked as a statistical technician in agricultural research at Edinburgh University for a number of years, but his vision and hearing loss forced him into early retirement at the age of 36.
“I was quite depressed when my sight started to go,’’ he said. ‘‘You do go through a period of grief when you lose something, but then you say ‘this is the way it is, what can I do now?’.”
Michael was living in Berwick when Deafblind Scotland came into his life back in 1997, giving him support and helping him come to terms with his loss of vision and hearing impairment
He started repaying that help when he moved to Larbert, rowing 30 miles along the Union Canal in 2006 to raise £1500 for the charity and following that with an abseil off the Forth Bridge last year to raise another £500.
“Looking back on it I may have had it easier than others because I couldn’t see how far down it was when I looked over the parapet,” he joked.
His wife of 35 years Betty sadly died in 2004, but Michael has their three children, David (40), Fiona (38) and Iain (29), and three grandchildren, cheering him on in his charity endeavours – which will soon include scaling all 1344 metres of Ben Nevis.
“It’s my biggest challenge yet,” he said.
Michael has already scaled a number of smaller peaks, including Ben Lomond and Dumyat, in preparation for his sponsored ascent and will be accompanied on the day by an experienced mountain guide, his daughter Fiona, her partner Nina and a number of volunteers.
“I will take the guide’s elbow and she will give me a verbal description of the terrain. I will also be carrying a walking stick as balance and to feel ahead for what is in front of me.
“That will be more useful on the way back down I think.”
People can visit www.justgiving.com/Michael-Anderson6 to donate some cash to Michael’s cause.