“My wife’s stepfather passed away from lung cancer in 2012. It was a short illness; he was diagnosed only six months before. His name was Tommy and he was born and bred in Dublin. He knew everyone and everyone knew him, a real character who was always on the go. He was one of those guys who would grab the guitar at the end of the day and sing a song or tell a good story. He had such an interesting life so had loads of great stories to share, I always looked up to him. It was him who introduced me to hiking. He showed me around the Wicklow mountains and after those long walks, I always felt so refreshed, calm and connected. I remember visiting him in the hospital, seeing this larger than life man slowly fading away. I was just standing there wanting to do something. I did so much research at the time about men’s mental health and cancer prevention. I wanted people to know why it is so important to get checked. I wanted to raise awareness of early prevention. He passed away early November, at the time of Movember so myself and a few friends and work colleagues signed up to grow a moustache but I wanted to do something more. I came up with the idea to climb the highest mountain in Leinster, Lugnaquilla, in his memory. We did it without much planning or proper gear, but on arriving at the top I decided to make this a ‘thing’ every year. I set up a page called LugMOquilla and it grew year after year. From the first hike eight years ago that started with some friends, it has grown from a group of 20 to over 50 people from all corners of Ireland hiking together. I’ve gotten to meet some very interesting people all with their own stories and reasons for getting involved. We have pro-guides and very generous sponsors that donate every year. Besides having a lot of fun, we have raised over €60k in the past eight years. Our message is simple, Get yourself a good pair of boots, go out for a hike, talk and get checked every year.”
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