Jane Taylor recounts the day her husband Gilby reached new heights
As we all know, multiple sclerosis (MS) is, at best, unpredictable. So, you can imagine when we first dreamt up the idea of my husband, Gilby, who has primary progressive MS, going to the top of Belstone Tor on Dartmoor – it all sounded exactly that – just a dream.
We are very lucky to live in beautiful Dartmoor, Devon, and we can see Belstone Tor from our bedroom window. Gilby sits and looks at it every day and ponders what the view might be like from the top, never thinking he would see it as he uses a wheelchair to get about. Gilby has an all-terrain mobility scooter which gets us tantalizingly close, for example to the local Nine Maidens Stone Circle. From there we sit and have a coffee, looking in awe at that magnificent tor rising above us. However, at 479 metres high, it is out of bounds even for the hardiest mobility scooter.
But neither of us had realised just how awesome North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (NDSR) are. We spoke to them via the local pub landlord and they jumped at the chance to help! Their plan was to get Gilby to the top using both a Land Rover and a stretcher. The tor is challenging, with plenty of granite boulders hampering the route up – this was going to be no mean feat.
Plans were made for the assent by the NDSR Team. We had to sort out a few medical issues to make it possible – the team also provided a doctor for the day. That just left us leading up to the day to hope that, firstly, the weather was going to be kind, also that Gilby was going to be well enough, and, finally, that the team were not called elsewhere – not too much then!
We need not have worried. As the day dawned, glorious sunshine spilled over the top of the tor to wake us up from our fitful sleep. We looked out the window and said “today we are going up there.” And what a day it was! So many people from the village and beyond came to support us, both in person and on live stream. It was a day filled with laughter and love, and it was so inspiring as the NDSR Team reached the top after their exhausting climb and everyone cheered.
Reaching the summit
The view was magnificent. As we got there Gilby was so excited – he went that extra bit and asked the NDSR Team to stand him up, in order that, as he put it, he had his own two feet on the top of that tor. There was not a dry eye in the house! A couple of villagers set up a bar at the top and we all had a glass of bubbly. The occasion was capped off by the NDSR Team then carefully carrying Gilby to a granite rock to sit with me so we could cuddle up together to take in the view – awesome! It was the first time in 12 years we have sat on a rock together, and it was a wonderful reminder of our hill walking days of old.
A good cause
As a thank you to the team we set up a Just Giving page to which family and friends gave generously. Then our local BBC radio wanted an interview, which enabled us to promote the page further, together with local papers. At time of writing, we are delighted that due to the wonderful generosity of everyone – the page has raised £5,000 for the NDSR Team, which is fantastic – a small thank you for a big ask!
MS steals so much from us – both MSers and our families. Every day can be a challenge and an achievement in itself. Then days come along when you can amaze yourself and do something you thought was lost. It made us realise we must not stop dreaming. If we keep positive and look for solutions, things do happen. We have both felt we’ve remained on the top of that tor since – on top of the world! Our biggest thanks to NDSR Team for making dreams come true – you are awesome!
This article was published in the latest issue of New Pathways magazine. To subscribe to the magazine click here