Comber woman completes Mourne Mountains climb in aid of NSPCC Northern Ireland

A COMBER woman has completed a climbing challenge in aid of NSPCC Northern Ireland which has continued to provide help and support to children throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karen Walker, 45, from Comber, County Down, who works as a School Service Manager at NSPCC Northern Ireland, completed a fun five-mile socially-distanced climb up the Mourne Mountains along with friends on Friday 30th October to help raise vital funds for the charity.

17 May 18, Mandatory Credit ©Press Eye/Darren Kidd

The Big Climb set participants the challenge of completing a climb throughout October that suited their abilities and one they could fit around their schedule, whether climbing the stairs at home or completing a socially distanced climb or walk outdoors.

Karen said:  “As someone who has worked for NSPCC Northern Ireland for 20 years, I know that money is always needed to fund the vital work we do to help prevent child abuse and maintain essential services. However, it’s never been more important than at the moment because the lockdown meant that many fundraising events had to be cancelled so I decided I would have a go at doing The Big Climb because it looked like great fun and a brilliant way to raise much needed funds. Here in Northern Ireland, we have the beautiful Mourne Mountains right on our doorstep, so I thought why not and asked a few friends to join me which they did. It was a no brainer!

“I have completed a couple of challenges before. I’ve climbed Slieve Donard a few times and completed a previous NSPCC fundraising event which involved climbing and I really enjoyed it, so I knew what I was getting myself into.

“I have to admit it, my friends and I didn’t do much training as we’re all quite active and I don’t think we needed it!”

Trekking past stunning landmarks such as Blue Lough Lake, Karen said: “It was such a brilliant day. We were very lucky to have had such good weather and the views from the Mournes were just spectacular.

“I’ve realised through organising this event there are ways to get together and have fun, while raising money and staying safe at the same time. We managed to raise over £200 which we are delighted about. Knowing we took part in something that will help benefit children during this particularly hard time made it all the more worth it.”

As Schools Service Manager at NSPCC Northern Ireland, Karen manages the service which is committed to providing a comprehensive support to help schools keep children safe. This includes assemblies and workshops for children, teaching resources and lesson plans, through to specialist tools and training courses.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the service has had to adapt to go online, as school volunteers are unable to deliver the assembly in person. Instead, the organisation launched an online version of its Speak Out. Stay Safe assemblies in October with guest hosts, Ant and Dec, which was made available to all primary schools in the UK, after it was revealed referrals from its helpline continued to rise since lockdown.

Karen concluded: “The NSPCC’s Schools Service has faced challenges due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and the UK going into lockdown this year. However, we remain committed to reaching more schools digitally to help teach children about the different types of abuse, in a child-friendly and age-appropriate way through our Speak Out Stay Safe virtual assemblies, so they can get help if or when they need it.”

For more information and to sign up to the NSPCC’s virtual assemblies, visit nspcc.org.uk/speakout

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