Jackie smoked 20 fags a day and had only climbed a set of stairs ...now she’s tackling Mount Kilimanjaro
Mum-of-three will step out for charity
A mum- of- three who smoked 20 cigarettes a day and had never stepped in a gym is putting her best foot forward for charity... by climbing the highest mountain in Africa.
Jackie Dierikx, from Johnstone, will scale Mount Kilimanjaro next month to raise money for Finding Your Feet - an organisation that supports families affected by amputation or limb difference.
The 55- year- old, who runs the Coffee and Cream cafe in Howwood, dedicated herself to fundraising for the charity founded by her friend Corinne Hutton.
Quadruple-amputee Corinne, from Lochwinnoch, suffered acute pneumonia and septicaemia in 2013 and surgeons were forced to amputate both her hands and her legs below the knee.
Jackie said: “Corinne is amazing. She was first female quadruple amputee in history to climb Ben Nevis and Kilimanjaro has always been on her bucket list.
“When she asked me to join her team of supporters and do Kilimanjaro with her I thought she was crazy.
“I told her ‘I’m in my fifties, I’ve smoked for 40 years and the only thing I’ve ever climbed are the stairs in my house’.
“But then I thought, if she is doing this without her hands or legs, if have to push myself to make an effort.”
Since taking on the challenge, Jackie has completely turned her life around and now trains three times a week at Howwood gym.
“I went to the gym to ask for advice and trainer Matt Butler told me he would sponsor me but instead of giving me money he would train me for free,” she explained.
“He was the one that told me to stop smoking and I haven’t had any nicotine in six months. I owe it all to him, really.”
Also keeping Jackie motivated is her little dog, Prince.
The white staffy joins Jackie on all her climbing adventures and has been with her every step of the way.
Jackie said: “Ben Nevis was the first mountain I’d ever climbed, which I completed in June the day before my 55th birthday with Prince by my side.
“I always joke that people are sponsoring him not me.”
Though Prince won’t be part of the 11-strong team conquering Kilimanjaro come October 1, Jackie is hoping that it won’t deter people from giving generously to the charity.
She said: “The first reason I said yes to this was because Corinne is my friend and I’ve seen watch she’s gone through physically and psychologically.
“But since she started Finding Your Feet five years ago, I’ve also seen her change the lives of others.”
To sponsor Jackie and Corinne, please go to mydonate. bt. com/ fundraisers/jacquelinedierikx2.
For more information on Finding Your Feet, visit www. findingyourfeet.net.
Teamwork Jackie with fellow climbers