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Courageous Christopher climbs Ben Nevis with collapsed discs

6 December 2013

Christopher Williams from Llanelli showed great determination to complete a fundraising climb of Ben Nevis whilst in severe pain. Unknown to him at the time, he was suffering from two collapsed discs in his neck.

l-r Michael, Julia, Matthew, Christopher & GarethHowever, the 28 year old carried on the climb where many others would have given up, as he’s undergone many operations since birth. During one procedure to correct his spine condition, Idiopathic Scoliosis, Christopher had a titanium rod inserted to support and straighten his spine. His mother, Tracey Williams, says: “Although Christopher has learned to endure the pain caused by all his medical issues, the collapsed discs in his neck put him under enormous strain - but he kept climbing, regardless.”

Christopher was particularly determined to complete the Ben Nevis climb because PCRF's cause is close to his family’s heart. His beloved Mamgu, Mair Williams from Hendy, died of pancreatic cancer in March 2009, age 76. This wasn’t Christopher’s first fundraising challenge for PCRF either. In 2010 along with his father, Michael Williams, Christopher climbed Mount Snowden twice in two days.

However, shortly after completing the Ben Nevis climb in June, Christopher was hospitalised when he first experienced severe pins and needles and then lost all feeling, leaving him unable to walk. Diagnosed as having two collapsed discs in his neck, emergency surgery was performed to remove the discs, with surgeons inserting supporting cages and a titanium plate which is now bolted to his neck. “Surgeons were amazed that he had been able to climb Ben Nevis at all with this condition - let alone reach the top and get back down,” says Tracey. “But that dogged determination is typical of Christopher.”

Despite his health problems, Christopher has always been very active and is a Scout kayak instructor and leader with Carmarthenshire Scout Association as well as being a keen fundraiser for PCRF. Accompanying Christopher and Michael on the Ben Nevis climb - which raised over £1,000 - were Christopher’s friend Gareth Thomas; Julia Edwards, a fellow Scout kayaking leader; and her son, Matthew Richards. Another vital member of the team was Sparky the monkey, Christopher’s comforter during childhood hospital stays who’s also the team mascot.

“On another Snowdon climb earlier this year, Sparky fell from Christopher’s rucksack. When Christopher realised, he was more than prepared to go back up the mountain to find him,” says Tracey. “Luckily, two descending climbers had picked up Sparky and reunited him with Christopher as Sparky was also wearing his own distinctive red and yellow Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund t-shirt after they spotted Christopher and Michael in theirs!”

Christopher’s taking his recovery one day at a time but he hopes to return to work in the New Year, once he has been given the all clear by his surgeon. And it's certainly not the end of Christopher’s fundraising ambitions either - in 2014 he wants to climb Scafell Pike: “His physiotherapists are hopeful that he can do it and he’s certainly determined to do so,” says Tracey. “We’re so proud of how he overcomes his own health challenges to help others through his fundraising activities.”

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