Meet the Liverpool charity boss who is climbing Ben Nevis...from his stairs! - The Guide Liverpool

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Meet the Liverpool charity boss who is climbing Ben Nevis…from his stairs!


Charity boss Paul O’Brien has set himself an epic challenge of scaling Britain’s highest mountain Ben Nevis this Friday – from the staircase of his own home.

Paul, 31, executive director of Liverpool’s independent foodbank, Micah, will need to climb up and down the stairs 538 times to achieve the 1345 metres of the Scottish Peak.

He reckons it will take him about four or five hours to complete the challenge which he says was inspired by the incredible feat of 100-year-old Captain Tom Moore, who raised more than £32m walking 100 lengths of his own garden.

Ben Nevis

Paul says: “I don’t imagine I can compete with Captain Tom by any stretch of the imagination, but he showed how much one person can do if they put their mind to it – and that the simplest of ideas can achieve great things.”

And he smiles: “My wife’s just worried she’ll have to start a JustGiving page afterwards to raise money for a new stair carpet if I wear it bare!”

Paul, from Knotty Ash, has already overtaken the £500 target he set himself, with more than £1,000 pledged by supporters so far.

And he says the money will all go towards helping to delivering food parcels to those who need them.

Donations to Micah – a joint project set up between Liverpool Cathedral, the Metropolitan Cathedral and St Bride’s Church and the largest independent foodbank in the north west – have fallen since the coronavirus as schools, businesses and churches which supported it have temporarily been closed.

Yet demand for help has soared.

“Before the outbreak we averaged about 220 food parcels but that has now risen to around 320.

“Any money I raise will go towards those, enabling us to buy food to put in them or replenish reserve supplies which we used during the early days of lockdown.

“We have been fortunate enough to have established really good relationships with Tesco and B&M so that we can buy large quantities of food and products that we need in order to fill the parcels, as well as those with wholesalers, supported by the Independent Food Network and Feeding Liverpool.

“It means we can carry on providing the essentials for those vulnerable people and families who need them.”

The idea for ‘climbing’ Ben Nevis came because Paul had undertaken the Three Peaks Challenge 10 years ago, and Ben Nevis was the one he’s enjoyed climbing best – ‘probably because it was a beautiful, sunny day’.

“I wanted to see if I was still up to the challenge of the 1345 metres of Ben Nevis which is the equivalent of the height of 13 Liverpool Cathedrals where Micah and myself are based.

“I measured my staircase from ground level to the top and it’s just over 2.5 metres – going down won’t count but of course I’ve got to go down to go back up again.

“I had a practice walk for an hour a few days ago and it was okay doing it – although my knees and hips were aching the day after. So we’ll see.

“I just hope that by doing it I can keep Micah and those people who need us in people’s consciousness so they hopefully keep donating, and we can carry on helping.”

He says: “Whatever I raise, and whatever we continue to raise, it’s going to a great cause. So many people need our help and we want to be in a position where we can always meet that need.”

Anyone wanting to support Paul can go to his JustGiving page here.

After Friday people can still help by going to Micah’s just giving page – here.

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