A TRURO man diagnosed a long term genetic condition which affects, among other things, his balance, gait and co-ordination is planning to take on the Three Peak Challenge while he still can to raise money for charity.

Jonathan Woods was diagnosed with spinocerebellar ataxia in 2011, “with spasticity” added later. Ataxia is a long-term health condition or genetic disorder that gradually gets worse. It is a progressive neurological condition that disrupts the messages sent from the brain to muscles.

It is currently affecting his balance, coordination, gait, swallowing and speech. He also occasionally gets vertigo and some visual disturbance which will only get worse, to have greater difficulty walking and to have poorer muscle strength (stiffness and discomfort).

Unfortunately his faulty gene has not been identified and, as a result, no specific prognosis is available to him.

Despite his condition, Jonathan is planning to walk (and scramble) the three Yorkshire Peaks, in the Yorkshire Dales, in three days during September 2022, to raise money and awareness about ataxia.

He says in the mid to late 1980s he did some work in, and visited, the Yorkshire Dales and particularly liked the landscape.

"I was inspired by the Three Peaks, Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, and vowed to walk all of them consecutively one day. My sense is that I should do it now, whilst I still can! I’m going to try this on 20th, 21st and 22nd of September 2022."

The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge involves doing all three peaks, one after another in a circuit, in under 12 hours. However Jonathan feels doing it in 12 hours is beyond him now so he is going to try and climb rthem over three days, which he feels he can do.

He estimates is that by doing the peaks in sequence but separately he’ll cover approximately six miles per day and climb a total of 1,460 meters overall.

"I don’t expect it to be any less of a challenge for me; partly because of my slowness, discomfort and relative weakness, but also because I become very fatigued and less coordinated quickly. As a result, I suspect that the biggest challenge for me is likely to be starting days two and three,although finishing each day, and descending from each peak, could be challenging too. My muscle pain and vertigo will also be problematic.

"I’m doing the walks to raise money and awareness of ataxia: it’s my way of saying thank you, particularly to Ataxia UK having received, and benefited from, free advice, guidance, information, research and support."


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To find out more about what he is planning and/or make a financial contribution and/or learn about ataxia go to Jonathan's ‘Just Giving’ page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jonathan-Woods7