Chorley dad who survived the Manchester Arena bombing launches new social media challenge ahead of his £1m wheelchair Kilimanjaro climb

A Chorley dad paralysed in the Manchester Arena bombing is launching a social media challenge alongside his physical challenge to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in a wheelchair.

By Catherine Musgrove
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 3:45 pm

Martin Hibbert, who lives in Heath Charnock, was paralysed from the waist down when he and his teenage daughter were among the hundreds injured in the terror attack on May 22, 2017.

He had injuries across his body which were so bad they were compared to those seen in a war zone and army medics were called in to tell the surgeons how to put him back together.

But the football agent who has a "don't tell me I can't do something" attitude, has fought back and is now in training for the epic 19,000ft climb up Africa's highest mountain, using a custom-built handbike. He was inspired to take on the challenge and to raise £1million after learning only one in three people with spinal cord injuries receive treatment at specialist centres.

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Survivor Martin Hibbert

>>>Click here to read about Martin's Kilimanjaro mission.

In order to help raise for money for this initiative, Martin has joined up with the Spinal Injuries Association to launch #MY19, a challenge which encourages members of the British public, many of whom are still working from home on a part-time basis, to get out and enjoy the fresh air for 19 minutes.

To get involved with the ‘#MY19 Challenge’, participants are to follow three simple steps:

PARTICIPATE: Go outside for 19 minutes to enjoy some fresh air or exercise.

Martin on his custom-built bike

SHARE: Upload a photo or video of yourself during your personal challenge to social media using the ‘#MY19’ hashtag.

NOMINATE & DONATE: Nominate a friend to do their version of the #MY19 Challenge and then donate to Martin’s Mountain via the JustGiving page.

>>>Click here to read more about Martin's story.

Against the backdrop of an enquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing, Martin is determined to turn the spotlight away from the people who tried to end his life and towards the charity that helped him rebuild it, to help others who are facing similar life-changing injuries.

He said: “It’ll be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But climbing Kilimanjaro is only part of the story. My true ambition is to enable every spinal cord injured person to receive the specialist care and support they need to live the life they choose and reach their full potential. I want to start a movement that will create a better and fairer society for disabled people.”

>>>Click here to read Martin's evidence from the bombing inquest.

Nik Hartley, SIA’s chief executive officer, added: “As Martin has always said, this is not about climbing a mountain in a wheelchair, but bringing attention to the unnecessary daily ‘mountains’ that he and 50,000 other spinal cord injured people face in the UK daily.

"Although living with paralysis, spinal cord injuries people can always achieve a fulfilled life, but at SIA, sadly our phones are off the hook from our members, desperate about the lack of even basic levels of physical and mental care and support, that makes a fulfilled life impossible.

"Martin’s challenge is about raising awareness of this silent humanitarian disaster for too many, right here in the UK. We’re hoping that the #MY19 challenge helps to spread this message. Each and every time someone participates and posts what they are doing it will build public awareness, and every single donation will ensure SIA can provide specialist support for more and more spinal cord injured people who need it.”

The Kilimanjaro challenge

Martin Hibbert will climb Kilimanjaro in June this year using Mountain Trike all terrain wheelchair alongside a team of 12 others, including medics, guides, and a project co-ordinator.

He has been in training for over a year alongside Rob Grew, who ran into the Manchester Arena immediately after the explosion to offer help to the severely injured casualties, and Stuart Wildman, the head nurse at the Major Trauma Centre at Salford Royal who treated Mr Hibbert when he was admitted after his injury.

He said: "I’ll be pushed to my limits over seven days, facing tough terrain, whilst dealing with the cold, altitude and sleeping in the wilderness. Negotiating the boulder fields and the long climbs on shingle won’t be easy, but I’m sure my Bowhead bike will get me to the top.

"Being spinal cord injured, I’ll face other challenges too; managing my bladder and bowels, regulating my temperature and avoiding pressure ulcers are amongst the issues.

"But I’ll have a great team to help keep me safe and well. Camping isn’t easy when you have a spinal cord injury, so I’m thankful to SIA and our project partners and sponsors, for keeping me healthy."

To find out more about the Martin's Mountain challenge, or to donate, click here.