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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > Patient raises £7,500 with mountain pull

Patient raises £7,500 with mountain pull

Posted on Friday 24th August 2012

Fleck on his mountain pull

A former patient whose life was saved by staff on the Intensive Care Unit at West Cumberland Hospital has undertaken a remarkable charity challenge to say thank you.

Fleck Ditchburn (63), who has Motor Neurone Disease (MND), was pulled to the top of a Lake District mountain in his wheelchair by friends, family and members of Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team to raise funds for a new piece of equipment for the unit.

The effort to conquer Blake Fell raised more than £7,500 towards an oesophageal Doppler monitor, which will enable Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients to undergo less intrusive procedures.

The mountain pull in June 2012 took place almost one year after Fleck was admitted to ICU with a collapsed lung and pneumonia. His stay on the unit was to become the longest ever of any patient on the unit – a record 175 days.

Fleck, formerly an ICT teacher who ran marathons for a hobby, explained how the condition had radically changed his life, following his diagnosis in March 2009. “I have no movement because the neurons that control my muscles are totally destroyed,” he said.

“In April 2011 I realised that my breathing was beginning to be affected with the deterioration of my chest muscles. In June 2011 I was admitted to West Cumberland Hospital with a collapsed left lung with pneumonia and my right lung was not much better. Following two painful, sleepless nights on general wards being made comfortable I was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Consultants, doctors and nurses gave me little chance of survival but through their skill, determination and care I am here to tell my story.”

Fleck was finally discharged to his home in Lamplugh almost six months later, in December 2011. Having previously been a keen fundraiser, completing marathons, windsurfing across the Solway Firth from England to Scotland and tackling many other charity challenges, he was determined not to let his illness stop his good work.

With the help of friends, family and mountain rescue volunteers, he was pulled to the top of Skiddaw in October 2010 to raise funds for the Motor Neuron Disease Association.

Following his record stay at West Cumberland Hospital, he vowed to conquer Blake Fell to raise funds for the ICU, which he did in June this year. With over £7,500 raised towards the £12,000 oesophageal Doppler monitor, the manufacturer Deltex Medical kindly made a donation to make up the difference.

Fleck wishes to thank the staff on the ICU at West Cumberland Hospital and everyone who made it possible for him to be discharged to his own home and cared for there around the clock by a dedicated team.