A RETIRED social worker has raised more than £3,000 of his £5,000 target to raise funds for a local charity.
Ray Johnstone is putting on his walking boots to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro for Manx Radio’s Dream Catcher Appeal.
The father-of-two from Douglas will leave for Tanzania on June 20.
In the meantime, Ray is planning a number of fundraising events to raise the extra funds needed.
Ray is taking part in the climb to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder. He suffers from the disorder as a result of his past experiences of being in the Army.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a severe anxiety condition that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma.
Ray said: ‘On a personal level I would like to raise the awareness of mental health issues, and hopefully demonstrate that despite the presence of mental health distress, sufferers don’t need to hide away or be afraid to speak about their illness.
‘For me it will be about reminding myself that I do have skills that I learnt in the Army, that can be put to good use, rather than focusing on the negative aspect of Army life.’
At present Ray has raised £3,417, despite recently spending two weeks in a treatment centre in Scotland for his disorder and depression, and he says he is looking forward to the challenge. However, he admitted: ‘I have struggled to get myself motivated. This is a combination of my physical and emotional levels hitting a low after the intensive therapy.
‘I am certain that, come the start of the challenge, I will be mentally prepared for whatever Kilimanjaro throws at me.
‘If I was being honest, I would admit that I could be better physically prepared, but given my circumstances, I have done as much as I could manage.’
He added: ‘I will be drawing on all my nine years’ Army experience to help me through the challenge, along with a determination to ensure I reach my target of £5,000.’
To help raise more funds, Ray plans on doing a street collection on Senior Race Day, which will be his last event before he leaves to take part in the trek.
When he returns to the island, he has arranged a bag pack at the Shoprite store in Onchan on Saturday, July 7, and a bingo night is planned on July 10 at the Palace Hotel in Douglas.
Ray said: ‘I am often asked, “Why are you doing this?” Well, I can honestly say I want to experience the sun coming up over the African skies, plus I want to help a charity that deserves all the support we can muster.
‘However, the biggest thing I am looking forward to is hearing that more requests for assistance have been granted by the charity – that will give me a massive sense of satisfaction, knowing that I have helped to make a difference to people’s lives.’
If you would like to help Ray reach his target of £5,000 you can do so by contacting him on ray.j(at)manx.net – alternatively, you can make a donation at any branch of the Isle of Man Bank.