Trike gives mountain climber Carole Hassall 'new lease of life'
WHEN mountain climber Carole Hassall was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis she feared her days of enjoying the great outdoors were over.
But the 55-year-old has discovered a new lease of life thanks to her hand-crank tricycle, which has allowed her to conquer hills again despite losing much of the use of her legs.
Carole, above, is now planning to help other MS sufferers by organising a ride across the Peak District in aid of the MS Society.
The mother-of-one hopes that by completing the 14-mile ride she will prove that people can bounce back from MS and enjoy their life despite their disability.
Carole, of High Street, Ipstones, was first struck down with the disease in April 2010, as she was preparing for a trip to Snowdonia with her husband Phil.
The couple's great love was climbing mountains, and they had previously explored peaks across Britain, as well as the Pyrenees.
Carole said: "I was packing for the trip when I just collapsed. My left side went into spasms and went rigid. I was like that for about half-an-hour. By the time the ambulance arrived I was able to move again, but over the next few days it happened again.
"The main problem now is I can't walk very far. I can walk about 80 metres, but that takes a long time, and I feel very tired afterwards. Most of the time I am confined to a wheelchair.
"At first I was diagnosed with neurosarcoidosis, and I was told that I could get up to 60 per cent of my movement back with treatment. But when I didn't get any better I knew that it must be something else."
Carole's disability has not stopped her from working, although she has had to shift from a receptionist role at NHS North Staffordshire to a job in administration.
But it was only after friends introduced her to the hand-crank trikes that Carole realised that she could rediscover her passion for adventure.
Carole said: "I loved the challenge of climbing a mountain, and the sense of achievement when you get to the top. It's just a lot of fun.
"I've always been an optimist, I'm determined to make the best of any situation. So after feeling sorry for myself for a while, I decided to try and get active again.
"As soon as I tried the hand-trike I just loved it. It meant I could go to the places I went before. It did take a bit of getting used to, but climbing mountains involved a lot of scrambling, so I did have quite good upper body strength anyway.
"After attending a 'newly diagnosed' day organised by the MS Society I saw what good work they did, and I decided I wanted to do something to help them. That's when I came up with the idea for the ride."
Carole and Phil will be joined by around 15 friends and family on the trek from Parsley Hay to Ashbourne in the Peak District, along the Tissington Trail on March 30.
The couple are also organising a fund-raising concert at Ipstones Village Hall on April 13, and hope to raise around £1,000 for the charity.
Phil said he was very proud of his wife. The 59-year-old graphic designer added: "Carole has always been very strong and positive. Since being diagnosed she has had her moments, obviously, but I don't think I would have been able to cope with it as well as she did. Climbing was our great love, and it was very sad finding out that Carole wouldn't be able to do it again. But the hand trike really has given her a new lease of life."