Two cousins are set to climb Mount Snowdon on Friday 28th August to raise money for CAFOD in memory of the inspirational life of their beloved relative Mark Gilbert, who died from Muscular Dystrophy earlier this year, aged just 35.
Stephanie Smith from Wimbotsham, Kings Lynn, and Bernadette Fowler, from Downham Market in Norfolk, will join 13 other family members from all over the UK to tackle the highest mountain in England and Wales on Friday 28 August in aid of a tribute fund set up in Mark’s memory.
Miss Smith, a support worker in a residential home, said: “When he was young, Mark went on a trip to some mountains, and was overwhelmed by the people climbing them. When he got back to the hotel, Mark was absolutely determined to climb up the three steps at the entrance on his own, although he was severely disabled.
“It was like his own mountain to climb. It took about half an hour, but he made it. Despite his small size, we always saw him as mighty. We have always remembered that, and it gave us the idea to climb Snowdon for him.”
Mark was diagnosed with the debilitating disease when he was 12-years-old, and despite facing many challenges and being mostly confined to a wheelchair, his family says he lived life to the full and was passionate about fighting poverty and injustice.
When he died, it was thought a fitting tribute to set up a Candlelight Fund in his name with CAFOD. It has already raised nearly £5,000 to help end poverty.
Mrs Fowler, who will be making the climb just months after giving birth to her new son, said: “We all need to challenge ourselves a bit more in life. I believe this is when we achieve more.
“Mark has inspired me, and us, to do this climb because of the attitude he had to life and the beautiful spirit he had, which still shines down on us all. His total, unconditional love for others was always so apparent.”
She added: “Mark will be so happy to know we are raising money for such a good cause, helping people who truly have some massive challenges in their lives, which they face every single day.
“It broke Mark’s heart to think of children dying in Africa or families unable to live with even the basics that we take for granted. If we can help towards CAFOD’s work, we will all be so proud, and I know Mark will be proud of us too.”
Mark, who lived with his mum in Thornton Heath, London, was actively involved in fundraising for CAFOD and, when his father died suddenly in 2005, had taken over as treasurer for his parish’s “First Friday” lunch group to raise money for the charity.
Mark’s mother, Frances Gilbert, who adopted Mark when he was five-years-old, said: “He was an inspiration. It’s a great comfort to us to know that, through his Candlelight Fund, Mark has become the message he so desperately wanted to share. His legacy lives on.”