Nurse takes on suicide prevention challenge after sudden death of brother aged 23

Kirsty Brown is taking on the challenges in memory of her brother.
-Credit: (Image: NHSGGC)

A nurse has helped raise £4,000 for charity by climbing Scotland’s highest mountain in memory of her younger brother.

Kirsty Brown, 35, decided to scale Ben Nevis to give herself something to focus on following the sudden loss of her sibling, 23-year-old Scott McDermott.

Five of her colleagues from Inverclyde Royal Hospital, who all work with Kirsty in the theatre department, completed the challenge with her on Saturday, May 25.

The group, which also included Kirsty’s aunt, raised a combined £4,000 for local charity Man On Inverclyde, which works to prevent suicide and support adults and young people with their wellbeing.

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Scott, who lived in New Zealand, passed away in September last year, and Kirsty told how his death left her struggling to cope.

Scott tragically died when he was just 23.
Scott tragically died when he was just 23. -Credit:NHSGGC

She said: “It was the first loss I had ever experienced and it was such a shock.

“After Scott’s funeral in New Zealand, I came back to Scotland and that was when it really hit me, coming back to normal life.

“Christmas and New Year were a blur, and in January I decided to give myself something to focus on.

“I asked family and friends if they would like to join me in making a resolution to climb Ben Nevis, and my aunt and five of my amazing colleagues all rallied round to support me.”

Kirsty, from Gourock, started doing a 12-week training programme which included walking around 10 hours every weekend and scaling smaller hills like Ben A’an and Conic Hill in preparation.

The mum-of-two said her initial aim was to raise money for charity and awareness of men’s mental health support, but explained how the challenge helped her own wellbeing as she spent weeks training in the outdoors getting fresh air and exercise.

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Kirsty and her team at the top of Ben Nevis.
Kirsty and her team at the top of Ben Nevis. -Credit:NHSGGC

She said: “As much as this was for Scott, it was really for myself too. I spent so much time outside and it really benefited me.

“That’s something I really want to get across to people - how much just getting outside and going for a walk can change your mindset and boost your mental health.”

Kirsty, who has worked in her current role at the IRH for eight years, said reaching the 4,411ft summit of Ben Nevis was “harder than expected” as it took around nine hours to get up-and-down.

But she added: “When we got to the top, I got such an incredible sense of achievement. It was a brilliant feeling.

“I’d done a couple of Munros previously, but this was my most difficult challenge to date.

“I’m so grateful for all the support I received from my colleagues who joined me, and also to everyone who donated to Man On.”

The IRH colleagues who accompanied Kirsty on the hike were nurses Catriona Bell, Louise Orr, Emma Shorthouse and Avril Wakefield, and healthcare support worker Marsali Jack.

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Lorna Loudon, Chief Nurse for NHSGGC's Clyde sector, said: "We are all incredibly proud of Kirsty for taking on this challenge for charity, and of her colleagues at Inverclyde Royal Hospital for the support they have shown to her.

"In doing this, Kirsty has helped raise awareness of men's mental health issues and the ways people can support their own wellbeing by getting outside, exercising or spending time with friends.

"This challenge was an amazing thing to do both mentally and physically for all of those involved."