A hospital consultant has climbed the highest peak in every county on the island of Ireland within one week in memory of his sister-in-law.
Richard Horgan, a Cork-based consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, completed the fundraising challenge almost five years on from the death of wife’s youngest sister, 38-year-old Orla Gosnell.
The consultant and father of three, who is aged in his 40s, completed the demanding task to raise money for Cork University Maternity Hospital, through the CUH Charity, with the hope of using the funds to create dedicated spaces for patients and staff.
Ms Gosnell, a social care worker, died in December 2018, five months after delivering her fifth child at CUMH.
Dr Horgan took the final steps of the challenge on Saturday after completing an average of four to five peaks per day.
As he descended the final peak, 918-metre tall Galtymore on the Limerick/Tipperary border, he said: “What a fantastic week, it has been challenging and brilliant.
“I think if Orla could see us now, she’d be crying happy tears.”
Dr Horgan was joined by Ms Gosnell’s husband Robert, her mum Myriam and dad Kees on his final descent.
The 32-peak challenge was done in her memory but also to raise funds to construct relaxing spaces in CUMH’s corridors for patients, their partners and staff.
The medic, who has previously conquered Kilimanjaro, tripled the initial target of 10,000 euro, with more than 30,000 euro rolling into the CUH Charity from supporters at home and overseas.
During the seven-day trek with colleague and friend, Professor Richard Greene, the pair climbed a combined altitude of 16,000m, which is almost twice that of Mount Everest.
After beginning the challenge in Cork on Sunday July 16th they slept for little more than four hours per night.
The journey involved travelling more than 2,000 kilometres around the island to the highest point in each county.
The avid climbers slept overnight at the base of the following morning’s peak.
Dr Horgan said: “I am overwhelmed by the love and respect for Orla, the support for Richard Greene and I, for CUMH, and I am humbled by the generosity and support of so many.”
CUH Charity head of development Claire Concannon described the mountaineer as a “fantastic representative” of so many donors who choose to fundraise in memory of a loved one.
“Part of Orla’s legacy will be the creation of more comfortable spaces for anyone who may need it during their time in CUMH, where they can step away from the clinical spaces and just breathe.
“We are absolutely blown away by Richard’s energy and enthusiasm throughout the week and hugely appreciate his effort.
“Big thanks also to Prof Greene for such incredible support.”
Dr Horgan said Ms Gosnell always enjoyed a brilliant relationship with children.
“She loved being pregnant but always wanted to be involved and to know everything about her care.
“She was so dynamic, it was always about the solution rather than the problem with her.
“This lives on in her five fabulous kids,” he said.
Dr Horgan said he hopes the new space will include a symbol specifically remembering Ms Gosnell and her experiences in CUMH.
“What has always been to the forefront in my work is the patient’s experience, the mother’s experience, even in bad outcomes and to make the experience as positive as we can.
“When I walk into the maternity hospital, there are magnificent glass corridors and there’s an opportunity to install benches or seats, we have three floors to work with and could do it on all floors.
“It is simply somewhere patients, their partners and staff can go and sit, take a moment, have a chat, take a phone call, have those few minutes.”
For more information or to support the challenge until August 6, visit www.idonate.ie/fundraiser/DrRichardHorgan32CountyPeaks
By Cillian Sherlock, PA
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