A medical education centre manager from Lancaster is preparing to climb the highest peak in Wales in the dark to raise awareness of mental health conditions.
Leanne Benson, postgraduate medical education manager at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, is in training for the night climb up Mount Snowdon on May 11.
Leanne has worked for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust for 27 years, said her sister, Mel Benson, is her inspiration for climbing Snowdon.
Leanne said: “Mel has bipolar disorder and severe anxiety. She also suffered a major stroke in 2016 which exacerbated her mental health conditions and, in turn, restricted her physical ability to recover.
“There is still stigma around people with mental health issues. It can be very challenging. I want to help to reduce the stigma by talking openly about mental health.”
Leanne’s aim is to help people to be more understanding and supportive when someone is affected by bipolar disorder or any form of mental illness.
The Snowdon challenge has been on Leanne’s “bucket list” for a number of years asshe has also climbed the highest mountains in Scotland and England – Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike. At 3,560ft (1,085 metres) above sea level, Snowdon is the highest point in the UK after Ben Nevis.
Leanne has covered her own expenses for the challenge so all funds raised will go to her chosen charity, Mind.
A former volunteer for the Territorial Army (TA), Leanne has already raised £520 for Mind through her online donation page and is hoping to raise more money to helppeople with mental health conditions in Lancashire.
She said: “I have previously done charity events such as Red January for mental health awareness, Race for Life for Cancer Research UK and half marathons for the Meningitis Trust.
“Post Mel’s stroke, I became a full-time carer for her and her young boys for anumber of months.
“Doing regular exercise during this difficult period of time and during my return to work really helped me with my own mental health. It enabled me to continue with life and work.”
If you would like to donate to Leanne’s fundraising efforts, visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=LeanneBenson&pageUrl=1