Monday Motivation: “This is for you, Mum” – the 8 year old who climbed The Old Man of Hoy and right into our hearts
In contrast to last week’s post about a 99-year old making her first climb, today we’re celebrating the incredible story of Edward Mills and his mum Bekki Christian.
Last June, Edward (now 9) became the youngest person to climb the Old Man of Hoy, a magnificent 450ft sea stack off the coast of Orkney, in Scotland’s far north. Edward did the climb in aid of the charity Climbers Against Cancer and in support of his mum Bekki, who had terminal cancer. Bekki was able to watch her son make this historic climb, but sadly passed away in August.
[At the end of this article is a link to vote for Edward in the Laureus World Sports Awards ‘Sporting Moment of the Year’.]
A lifelong lover of the outdoors, Bekki loved walks in the Yorkshire Dales with her grandad, and then later with her husband Nathan and two boys (George and Edward) in Scotland. She only got into climbing as a result of her and Nathan taking the boys to a local climbing wall when they were young, but immediately got the bug and developed a genuine passion and interest for it, not letting her illness deter her.
When it became evident that Edward had real talent on the climbing wall, his devoted parents found him a private coach (Alex Shaw) and made the trip to Bristol a few times a week. “It was all about facilitating their interest in climbing” Nathan told Womenclimb. “She loved the physical side for the boys, but also the community, especially when we started meeting other parents through the YCS [Youth Climbing Series]”. Last year, Edward came fourth in his category in the BMC Youth Climbing Series, second in the Scottish Youth Climbing Championships, and he competed at the Rock Juniors in Arco, Italy. “She just wanted the best she could for the boys, like any supportive mother with whatever hobby they were pursuing”, Nathan continued.
Bekki wrote a fascinating article in Scottish Mountaineer magazine about the NC500, a classic road trip around the far north of Scotland that takes in some incredible scenery and boasts similarly outstanding (but little known) climbable rock. The article was published in the summer of 2018, only shortly before Bekki died. Her passion for exploration is evident throughout, continuously searching for new places to share with her family, and supporting her children in their interests.
In recognition of his fundraising efforts (over £40,000 so far) Edward received a Pride of Britain award in November, and the Laureus World Sports Awards made his climb Sporting Moment of the Month for September 2018.
Now Edward has the chance to win the Laureus World Sports Awards ‘Sporting Moment of the Year’ 2019 – but needs your vote. Let’s continue to support Edward and honour Bekki.
“I like to be able to lift myself to places that are high and I didn't know I could get to” (BMC).
Donate to Edward's Justgiving campaign.