Royal Navy sailor raises thousand for rare disease crawling up UK's highest mountain

  • Kerry Swain reports on Martin Stuart-Macrae's Ben Nevis challenge

A Royal Navy chef has raised thousands of pounds for charity by 'bear crawling' up the UK's highest mountain.

Martin Stuart-Macrae, who is based in Poole, spent six hours on his hands and knees trying to reach the top of Ben Nevis.

He was driven on by his goal of fundraising for Arlo's Army, a charity set up by family friends to support children with rare genetic diseases.

  • What is a 'bear crawl'?

A bear crawl is a type of movement often used during fitness training.

Rather than supporting their body weight with their knees, a person bear crawling keeps their knees and legs off the ground, distributing their weight between their hands and their toes.

It's generally used for short bursts - not a six hour long stint up a mountain.

Martin, who recently turned 23, said the experience of climbing more than a thousand metres with all of his weight resting on his hands and toes left his "wrists in tatters."

"I couldn't move my hands," he said, "and the last mile was on snow so I had frostbite on my hands, I was absolutely knackered.

"There was loads of false summits as well, before you know it I've got another hill to do so so I think the last section is where I had to dig deep and get through it."

Arlo is still looking for a stem cell donor.

The Royal Navy sailor took on the challenge as a fitting tribute to the journey facing the son of a family friend with a rare genetic disease.

Arlo, who is three, has Wickott-Aldrich Syndrome, which is a rare, life threatening genetic disorder of the immune system.

A bone marrow transplant when he was six months old was unsuccessful and he needs a second transplant.

The family set up Arlo's Army, the charity Martin is backing, to support other families with desperately sick children.

The three-year-old's mother Nicole McArthur said the challenge brought on "lots of emotions."

"I cried so many times and I didn't expect to feel that way," she said.

"I thought it was a crazy, crazy thing to do but when I actually seen it happen I thought whoa this is insane, especially when he got to the snow and I knew how much he was struggling."

Martin face challenging and changeable conditions, including snowy ground, throughout his climb.

Martin said that he "loves proving people wrong," as fellow climbers on the Ben Nevis route were doubtful he could finish.

"I think a lot of people doubted me when they've seen me at the bottom of the mountain as I was going up," he said.

"As I was getting further up and they were coming back down you could really see it in people's faces, they were like, good effort like, strong, so that spurred me on."

The experience clearly hasn't put him off, as he is planning other bear crawls of the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales, continuing his fundraising efforts.