Wednesday 24 July 2019

Climbers set to scale summit of Pointe Burnaby

Mary Fogarty

Tomorrow (Thursday, July 4), 18 Irish people will set out to climb the Alpine summit of Pointe Burnaby in aid of Greystones-based cancer research charity The Caroline Foundation.

Following several months of training across peaks and mountains in Wicklow, Kerry and Sligo, the group travelled to Zermatt last Saturday, June 29, to spend four days acclimatising to the Alpine altitude. Tomorrow, they will begin their challenge to reach the summit of Pointe Burnaby, a 4,153-metre-high, snow-covered peak near the Matterhorn above Zermatt in Switzerland.

Each member of the expedition has been touched by cancer, either personally or through a loved one.

The group has two clear goals in sight: to highlight the critical importance of medical research in Ireland into cancer and to raise funds for leading oncologist Professor John Crown's research team via The Caroline Foundation.

Among the climbers is the Caroline Foundation's chairperson, Helen O'Sullivan-Dwyer (68), and her husband, 72-year-old businessman and hotelier, Dermod Dwyer. The Caroline Foundation is named in memory of Dermod's daughter, Caroline Dwyer-Hickey, who died in 2013 from HER2+, genetically triggered breast cancer. Caroline was aged 35 and lost her mother, Fidelma, to the same disease in 1989, aged just 38.

For nine years after her diagnosis, primary school teacher Caroline fought a spirited battle against her cancer and took part in experimental treatment trials with Professor John Crown, trials which helped extend her life.

Simultaneous with the climb of Pointe Burnaby, fresh clinical trials are set to begin, led by Professor Crown and his team. Named Caroline I and Caroline II, these trials build on the results of collaborative research, which was supported and facilitated by the foundation, and have produced new insights into HER2+.

Chairman of The Caroline Foundation, Mrs O'Sullivan-Dwyer said: 'This is a really tough personal, mental and physical challenge for all taking part, especially those who are survivors of cancer and have been touched by it.

'The motive that drives each member of this wonderful group is to advance cancer research in Ireland to find new treatments to alleviate and ultimately conquer cancer. And that motive is, indeed, very special!'

Those taking part include: Bobby Kerr, former CEO of the Insomnia cafe chain, former Dragon, radio personality and a cancer survivor; Liam Sheehan, former commercial director of An Post; Frank Cronin, former CEO of Newstalk FM whose treatment for cancer earlier this year necessitated the removal of his bladder, steeling his determination to make the climb nonetheless; Dr Hugh Gallagher, an addiction counsellor with the HSE; cancer survivor Karen Hodgins, and her sister Thelma; Patty Roberts; Grace Delahunt who lost both her sister Catherine O'Reilly and her sister-in-law, former Circuit Court Judge Katherine Delahunt, to cancer; Tara McMahon who has lost friends to cancer; school friend of Caroline Dwyer-Hickey, Sarah Conry-Cunningham and her husband, Al Cunningham; Patty Roberts from Delgany; Denis Dwyer, Caroline's brother; Dermod Dwyer, Caroline's father and executive chairman of The Convention Centre Dublin, board director of Powerscourt Estate, and IMMA; Helen O'Sullivan-Dwyer, Caroline's stepmother; businessman and equestrian industry accountant Mark Sherry; and recently retired Irish Times Deputy Editor, journalist Peter Murtagh

The challenge will be led by explorer and experienced climber Bill Roberts of Delgany, fitness coach Adam Kelly of Pura Vida, Greystones, and Miles Bright, a distinguished Alpine guide based in Chamonix.

Participants on the climb are paying all their own costs and all money raised will go directly to Prof Crown's Cancer Clinical Research Trust.

Pointe Burnaby was climbed first in the 1860s by Greystones woman, Elizabeth Hawkins-Whitshed. She named the peak, a shoulder of the Bishorn Mountain, after her late husband, Col Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, whose name she also gave to the Greystones housing estate she built and where Caroline grew up.

Visit to find links to sponsor the various climbers.

Bray People