Brave multiple sclerosis sufferer Stuart scales the heights
STUART Levers has never been the sort of person to shy away from a challenge.
The 41-year-old has previously skydived, bungee jumped and raced cars around circuits at breakneck speeds.
But his biggest test came when he was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis – a neurological condition in which unpredictable attacks are followed by periods of relative quiet.
Aged 34 at the time, Mr Levers, from Cotgrave, struggled to accept the diagnosis but is now determined not to let the disease hold him back.
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As well as attending night school to train as a counsellor so he can help others with the disease, Mr Levers has also pledged to raise as much as he can for Multiple Sclerosis Society through a series of tough sponsored walks.
The first challenge he has set himself is in June: to climb the Three Peaks – the highest mountains of Scotland, England and Wales – within 24 hours.
"It's a whole change of mind-set," said Mr Levers. "I'm no longer sitting here denying it, thinking it's going to go away because it isn't, but there are a lot of people a lot worse off than me so while I'm fit physically then why shouldn't I be the one to do it?"
Mr Levers, who owns his own car bodyshop business, injects himself every day to stop the relapses but still suffers symptoms including chronic fatigue and a heaviness in his legs.
"To go from everything being normal to all of a sudden feeling like someone has kicked the bottom out of your world is hard," he said.
"Relapsing-remitting can really hit at any point but I don't want to be one of those people who sits back and says 'I wish I'd done that'.
"I want to say 'yes I did that and something good came of it'."
Mr Levers has been training in Derbyshire every weekend and is often joined by his wife Donna and four children aged from seven to 18.
Even before completing the challenge he is already looking to his next one – Mount Kilamanjaro in 2014.
Following that he wants to climb Everest in 2015 or 2016 if he can find the sponsorship.
To sponsor Mr Levers see www.justgiving.com/stuartdlevers