Maureen (80) gets ready to rock Ramore for Marie Curie

WHEN Marie Curie Cancer Care stage their first fundraising abseil down the rugged face of Ramore Head next month, Ballymena octogenarian Maureen Gilmore will be at the front of the queue to make the daring descent.

For the sprightly Farm Lodge resident is an old-hand at taking a leap of faith for a good cause.

Over the years, Maureen, has volunteered for numerous charities and undertook her first abseil - a descent of Belfast’s Europa Hotel - at the age of 73.

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She was told she was the oldest person to take part and got such a buzz from the experience that she took on the BT Tower the month after and raised a combined total of £2300 for Arthritis Care, a charity for whom she has volunteered locally for many years.

Maureen, who keeps in shape by going to the gym three times a week, now can’t wait to mark her 80th year by taking on an abseil with a difference.

This is the first year Marie Curie Cancer Care has abseiled Ramore Head and the charity’s first using a natural venue.

“I got such a kick out of my first abseil down the Europa that I didn’t come down to earth for days - it’s one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done and I knew I had to do it again,” said Maureen who firmly believes that “80 is the new 60!”.

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“This abseil will be quite different from the others,” she added. “I won’t be going down a smooth surface and I’ll be landing on rock.

“People have said ‘you’re not going to do it, are you?’, but if I didn’t do it I would be so disappointed,” she said.

While the aim for participants is to raise a minimum of £55, big-hearted Maureen has set herself a target of £3,000 in a bid to fund specialist nursing care in her community for terminally ill patients.

And, she’s doing well, having raised a staggering £2,200 already.

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Maureen came to realise the important work of the Marie Curie Cancer Care nursing service through close friends who received its help with terminally ill spouses both at home and in the Belfast Hospice and she is thrilled that the money she raises will go back into her community to pay for those terminally ill and in need of Marie Curie Cancer Care nursing.

There are 31 Marie Curie nurses working in the local area providing free nursing for people with terminal cancer and other illnesses who wish to be cared for at home at the end of their lives.

Marie Curie Nurses work through the night or during the day making it possible for people to live their last days at home, rather than go into hospital. They are also on hand to give emotional support to families and carers at what can be an extremely exhausting and stressful time.

Marie Curie Nurses in the North & Mid Ulster areas have never been busier. In the last year they have provided more than 21,000 hours of nursing care and the demand for the service continues.

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This year they need to raise over £515,000 so that nurses can continue their care in Ballymena, Antrim, Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus, Larne, Magherafelt, Cookstown, Coleraine, Ballymoney & Moyle areas.

With that in mind, Maureen is encouraging others to sign up for the Ramore Head fundraiser on April 7 and says ‘if she she can do it, anyone one can!’

It’s £10 to enter and the aim is to raise £55. Individuals and groups are welcome to take part and the age limit is 14.

Once registered you will receive a welcome pack with your time and fundraising forms. On the day you will receive abseil coaching and instruction. You can enter online at or call 08700 340 040.