Wigan dad climbed Ben Nevis while wearing 12st diving suit

Nigel Brookwell
Nigel Brookwell

A Wigan dad is both exhausted and ecstatic after climbing Britain’s highest mountain while wearing a weighty diving suit!

Nigel Brookwell, from Swinley, was part of a six-man team which scaled Ben Nevis, taking turns to wear the 80kg equipment in a gruelling ascent which took more than three days.

Nigel on his way to the summit

Nigel on his way to the summit

The team reached the 4,411ft summit on Monday, a day ahead of schedule - even more impressive considering they started their Sub-sea to Summit challenge at the bottom of Loch Linnhe.

And in doing so, Nigel and his fellow adventurers raised over £6,000 for The Historical Diving Society, Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, and the family of Thai diver Saman Kunan, who died during the rescue of 12 boys trapped in a flooded cave.

“They said it was impossible. But we wanted to raise as much as much as possible for the family, and also the mountain rescue team” said Nigel, who is no stranger to extreme challenges.

The 45-year-old was loaned the exact same diving suit, from the 1930s, by the Historical Diving Society last year, which he wore to participate in the Wigan 10k.

Proud Nigel at the summit of Ben Nevis

Proud Nigel at the summit of Ben Nevis

So when the society reached out to him to ask for his support for the Ben Nevis challenge, he jumped at the chance.

“I couldn’t have achieved what I did without their kindness and trust,” he said.

“I was cramping up just thinking about it. It was frightening, because there were so many unknowns, especially when so many experts said it was impossible, and washed their hands of it.”

But Nigel was still in good hands, accompanied by a mixture of both serving and ex-military personnel for the three-day relay.

Nigel in the suit ahead of last year's Wigan 10k

Nigel in the suit ahead of last year's Wigan 10k

Nigel said: “As you can imagine, this extreme challenge started off brutal, and then steadily got worse as the route became steeper and more treacherous.

“It was a fantastic experience, and very humbling to be there. I thought, how the hell am I in this situation? It was the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done. Every muscle in my body is aching.”

But it is not the first time Nigel has taken on a physical challenge to raise money for charity.

Nigel, who works as a forensic auditor, donned the retro diving suit during last year’s Wigan 10K. He took on the daunting task to raise money for charity in honour of his teenaged son Harry, who suffers with chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as ME.

And in 2011 he completed a 30-mile march up Parbold Hill, and he has twice done a one-mile swim in the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.

The fund-raising page for the now-finished Ben Nevis challenge is still open, and Wiganers can still donate by visiting justgiving.com/subseatosummit