Megan’s story – climbing Ben Nevis for Deafblind UK

Megan and Rowley hiking.

Megan is climbing Ben Nevis to raise awareness of deafblindness and fundraise for us this month. Read on to find out more about Megan’s journey and what inspired her to take on this challenge!

Megan is deafblind and lives with her partner and her two dogs, retired assistance dog Ruby and assistance dog Rowley. Megan loves exploring nature, volunteering, and challenging herself to take on new sports and activities. She particularly enjoys hiking, skiing, and paracycling.

This month, she’s taking on her biggest challenge yet: climbing Ben Nevis! Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the United Kingdom, and a peak that many seasoned hikers aim to climb. Megan’s route requires fitness, experience, and dedication – but she’s taking it all in stride:

“Living with both sight and hearing loss can present a number of unique challenges, but with the right support, we can and do live independent and accomplished lives,” she said. “There are so many harmful and negative stereotypes surrounding deafblindness, and I would like to prove them wrong!”

Megan’s story – climbing Ben Nevis for Deafblind UK Deafblind UK

Photo description: Megan trying out adaptive sailing. She’s seated on a sailboat, holding onto a rope which is clipped into the boat, and smiling. In her right hand she holds the boat’s tiller. Rowley is laying at her feet, relaxing, and resting his head on the boat with his eyes closed. Both are wearing high-visibility lifejackets. In the background, the water is calm, and there are dense trees on the shoreline. The sky is mostly covered with clouds, with some clear blue sky peeking through.

In 2011, Megan had a life-changing accident which fractured her skull and damaged her left ear. She was diagnosed with hearing loss in 2012, as a result of damage to her inner ear. The accident also triggered changes in the way Megan’s brain sends signals to the rest of her body. She experiences a wide range of symptoms including seizures, limb weakness, fainting, tunnel vision, and visual blackouts. Her sight loss was diagnosed much later and was not formally registered until 2019.

“Despite being very firmly on the deafblind spectrum, it is not a term I have often used or identified with,” Megan said. “This year, I’m exploring my deafblindness and considering my personal experiences of life with dual sensory loss. Climbing Ben Nevis and fundraising for Deafblind UK, as well as joining them as a member, is part of that journey.”

We’re really grateful to Megan for her fundraising efforts, and for sharing her story in this article. If you’d like to show your support, please click here to visit Megan’s JustGiving page. Every donation will help support people living with deafblindness to live the life they want. You can also share this page with your friends and family on social media to help spread the word.

Megan’s story – climbing Ben Nevis for Deafblind UK Deafblind UK

Photo description: Megan and Rowley on one of their recent hikes. The pair are sitting on a rocky outcrop and Megan is smiling at the camera. She’s wearing hiking gear and a blue t-shirt with the Guide Dogs logo on it. Rowley is wearing his harness and a reflective lead. There are rolling mountains in the background, covered in grass and a low mist. At the foot of the mountains, there is a still, flat lake with deep blue water.

Megan is registered Severely Sight Impaired and has profound hearing loss in her left ear – but this doesn’t hold her back from doing the things she’s passionate about and living the life she wants. She has some use of her central vision and wears a hearing aid and her assistance dog, Rowley, provides invaluable support.

“My life would be very different without Rowley, because without him, I simply wouldn’t be able to do many of the incredible things I love doing,” she said. “His ability to perform medical alerts means I can safely take part in adaptive sports and do everyday things like take a bath without the fear of becoming unconscious, or eat without the risk of fainting with a blocked airway. He really does mean everything to me.”

Organising a climb up Ben Nevis takes a lot of planning – and Megan has been training for months! She’s been hard at work training for the climb and making the most of the spring weather with lots of local walks, with her partner and both of the dogs. Megan said: “As a life-long Scout, I am no stranger to hiking! Rowley loves it too and I have carefully built up his fitness over the past few months. But, despite my previous experience, the varying nature of my disabilities means that every hike comes with its own challenges.”

Megan’s story – climbing Ben Nevis for Deafblind UK Deafblind UK

Photo description: Rowley (on the left) and Ruby (on the right) out for a walk. They’re sitting on the grass, with woodland and bluebells in the background. Both are wearing reflective kerchiefs and harnesses, looking intently at the camera.

When she’s not training, Megan runs a successful Facebook page about her life with sight and hearing loss. She’s passionate about raising awareness of hidden disabilities like deafblindness, and the life-changing work of assistance dogs. Her page is full of insights into life with her assistance dog, and the unique challenges deafblindness brings – as well as great suggestions for hikes and days out.

Please click here if you’d like to follow Megan’s page – Ruby & Rowley The Superdogs. We highly recommend it!

The Jazz Apple Foundation, which provides grants to support young people, are sponsoring Megan’s climb. The Foundation believes that sport and exercise is vital for a healthy mind, body, and soul – so this really was the perfect fit!

“The Jazz Apple Foundation has kindly supported us with a grant towards the cost of our travel and campsite fees, which we are very grateful for,” Megan said.  They also sent a crate of delicious Jazz apples which were very well received! If you’d like to visit the Jazz Apple Foundation website and find out more about their work, please click here.

Megan’s climb is in mid-May, and you can still show your support by donating on her JustGiving page or sharing this page with your friends. We’re really excited to hear how the climb goes and would like to take this chance to say a big thank you to Megan for taking on this challenge to fundraise for us! Please click here to visit Megan’s JustGiving page.

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Open Hand Magazine

Open Hand is our free, quarterly magazine containing articles and information that are tailored specifically to people with dual sensory loss.

There are very few publications designed for this specific market and so Open Hand gives its readers valuable information that they may not otherwise have known and reminds readers about Deafblind UK’s support services.

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