Coronavirus fundraiser Margaret Payne, 90, 'climbing Suilven' on stairs for NHS

Margaret Payne, at the foot of her stairsImage source, PA

With Captain Tom Moore, 99, walking his way to fame - and a fortune for NHS charities - another nonagenarian has embarked on a marathon challenge.

Margaret Payne, 90, aims to climb the equivalent of Highland mountain Suilven - 731m (2,398ft) - with 282 trips upstairs at her Sutherland home.

Inspired by the Army veteran's 100 laps of his garden, she began on Sunday.

And after hitting her target to raise £10,000 for the NHS and a hospice on Thursday, she said: "It's amazing."

Mrs Payne, from Ardvar, first climbed Suilven, in the west of Sutherland, aged 15, in 1944.

She believes her modern-day challenge will take around two months to complete.

It is her way of thanking the "absolutely wonderful" NHS staff, and carers at Highland Hospice, who took care of her husband, Jim, before his death at Christmas.

After donations passed her target, she said: "I wasn't expecting anything like it - 10,000 thank yous."

"It's brilliant of them all and I feel the NHS really deserve it. They have been amazing. Each day they are risking their lives."

Image source, PA
Image caption,
What goes up... must come down

By Thursday night, her fundraising total was at £12,500 - and rising.

Launching her bid, she wrote on her fundraising page: "Here we go... starting Easter Sunday... three flights before lunch today. Raining and windy outside but warm going up and down the stairs."

Since then she has climbed several times throughout each day.

Despite that, Mrs Payne said she had never been a hillwalker, having lived with knee problems since she was 12.

However, she would walk miles to reach the best spots for her true passion: fishing.

Media caption,
Watch as Capt Tom Moore completes his 100th lap

Mrs Payne's inspiration, who has become known as "Captain Tom", walked 100 laps of his Bedfordshire garden to mark his upcoming 100th birthday.

After being featured on local radio and websites and then TV and in national newspapers, the former serviceman quickly raced past his initial target of £1,000 and then a swiftly-revised one of £500,000.

By the early hours of Friday, more than 800,000 people had donated a total of more than £17m.

What heights Mrs Payne can achieve in her own fundraising challenge has yet to be seen...