Hemel Hempstead man to scale England's highest peak in memory of his mum

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TJ is raising money for Brain Tumour Research

A man from Hemel Hempstead will be taking on England's highest peak to raise money for Brain Tumour Research, in memory of his mum.

Taranjit ‘TJ’ Lotay, whose mother died in 2019 - 10 years after being diagnosed with a brain tumour - is preparing to climb England’s highest mountain in her honour.

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The 28-year-old will be among a group of 10 to take on the 978-metre Scafell Pike in Cumbria’s Lake District National Park on Saturday, September 25.

TJ with his mum Rashpal in hospitalTJ with his mum Rashpal in hospital
TJ with his mum Rashpal in hospital

The challenge, organised as part of a number of UK-wide Brain Tumour Research Walk of Hope events, will commemorate TJ’s mother, Rashpal Lotay, who died in May 2019, 10 years and two days after being told she had just three years to live.

TJ aspires to become a climbing instructor and has recently passed the first stage of a Mountain Leader Award so will be leading the group, made up of colleagues-turned-friends he has made since working at the Amazon warehouse in Hemel Hempstead.

He said: “It’s definitely pushed some of the guys in the group because one of them is really scared of heights – I’m bringing a rope to tie him to me.

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"Two of the others have never done anything like this before and six of them have never done something quite this crazy.

Part of the hiking group, Vee, Rex, Alex, TJ, Adam and LuisPart of the hiking group, Vee, Rex, Alex, TJ, Adam and Luis
Part of the hiking group, Vee, Rex, Alex, TJ, Adam and Luis

“I’m pretty fit so I’m excited about the hike but I’m a bit worried about the boys – I’m used to taking two or three people with me but there’s a sense of pressure with a group this size, making sure everyone’s ok.”

Before finding out she had a brain tumour, Rashpal, a married mother-of-four, suffered with double vision.

After ruling out eye problems, her optician advised her to see a doctor, eventually leading to her being diagnosed with an anaplastic oligastrocytoma, a mixed glioma tumour, which contains both abnormal oligodendroglioma and astrocytoma cells.

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Her ‘strong’ character saw her through repeated surgeries and chemotherapy treatment and it was not until her last year that she experienced a dramatic decline in health.

TJ on Preikestolen hike in Norway in 2018TJ on Preikestolen hike in Norway in 2018
TJ on Preikestolen hike in Norway in 2018

TJ said: “For eight or nine years she was a normal woman, still having fun, it was just towards the end that it spiralled.

"If you saw my mum in 2018, her appetite was slowly shrinking but she was still laughing and talking, but in January 2019 she slowly started to deteriorate.

“She started losing her abilities, first losing her movements – she became very slow and we had to get a chair lift in the house - and then she had a stroke on her left side and it was almost like she was in a vegetative state.

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“She had always been happy, talking, dancing, she loved music, but she went from being very independent to having to have someone with her.

"She lost her mobility and her voice – we had to change her, feed her, wash her.

“The doctors said she wasn’t in any physical pain but I knew she was in emotional pain.”

Since his mother’s death TJ has become a dedicated supporter of Brain Tumour Research and had planned to travel to America last year to hike Angel’s Landing, often regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous trails, to raise funds for the charity.

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With that hike on hold because of the pandemic, for now he is focusing on a challenge closer to home.

He said: “For the Walk of Hope, I wanted to do a ‘hike of hope’ so the best place I could think of was the highest peak in England.

"I want to do it for my mum because we were very close and she pushed me to start hiking.

"The first one I went out of my way to plan was Preikestolen, the ‘pulpit rock’, in Norway in 2018 and I remember speaking to her about it – I showed her pictures and she talked me into it and that became my thing.

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“I joined Brain Tumour Research to honour mum – I want to get her name out there because whatever us kids do in life is a representation of how she raised us.”

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet historically just 1 per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this

devastating disease.

Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “The Walk of Hope TJ has organised in his mother’s memory looks like it’ll be a real challenge and I wish him and his friends the best of luck completing it.

"We’re very grateful for all their efforts, and to Amazon for donating £1,000 in support of them.”

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Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure.

TJ has set up a fundraising page - Walk of Hope, Scafell Pike Hike - and has already smashed his £1,000 target, he has raised over £2,200, to help him raise more for Brain Tumour Research visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/WalkofHopeLD.

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