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Hospice hope after tragedy

PUBLISHED: 12:08 07 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:09 03 March 2010

AN ADVENTURER is aiming to scale great heights to raise money for the hospice that looked after his mother.

Mike O'Connor was about to enter his teenage years when his mother, Anne, fell ill with breast cancer.

AN ADVENTURER is aiming to scale great heights to raise money for the hospice that looked after his mother.

Mike O'Connor was about to enter his teenage years when his mother, Anne, fell ill with breast cancer.

The cancer spread through her body over a seven-year period and by the time Mr O'Connor was leaving Framlingham College she was seriously ill.

He was a keen amateur landscape photographer and wanted to study photography at an art college. But the idea was abandoned as his mother's condition worsened.

Mrs O'Connor, of Benhall near Saxmundham, spent three months in St Elizabeth Hospice, Ipswich, before she died at the age of 42 in 1994.

Her son said: "The staff did so much for her and one of the nurses did a reading at her funeral, as they had become very close. I was very impressed with the work that they did at the hospice and the way she was treated."

Now Mr O'Connor, 26, of Glevering Hall, Hacheston, near Woodbridge, is preparing to take part in the International Hospice Challenge next May when a group of up to 20 climbers will trek through the lush valleys of Sagarmatha national park and up to the base camp of Everest.

The climbers will carry up to 40kg of gear on their backs and Mr O'Connor has already started training with long walks in the Suffolk countryside laden with a rucksack stuffed full of magazines.

He is aiming to raise £2,500 for the hospice and is appealing for sponsorship. However, Mr O'Connor emphasised that all money received will go to the hospice and he pledged to pay personally the £1,600 required for all his costs.

His father Brian died in May last year. Mr O'Connor was a regional manager for the west African airline Zircon in Benin and he drowned in the treacherous Bight of Benin waters.

His body was discovered on a beach and Mr O'Connor, of Britannia Road, Ipswich, was found to have extensive bruising to his head. A postmortem revealed he died as a result of drowning and an open verdict was recorded on his death.

Anyone who would like to sponsor Mr O'Connor should contact Charlie Fielder at the hospice on 01473 727776.

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