Peninsula pair taking to mountains for charity


By Gabrielle Swan

TWO LOCAL TRADESMEN will be tackling the seven highest peaks of the Mourne Mountains this weekend as they strive to raise funds for a crucial cancer support charity.

Scaling the iconic peaks this Saturday will be Kircubbin man, Raymond Braniff of and Portaferry resident, Justin Byers.

The large-scale hike is part of the Mourne Seven Summits, a yearly fundraising drive by Cancer Focus NI. The challenge sees hikers scale the iconic seven peaks to raise funds for the charity.

The challenging route will take participants up and down Slieve Donard (850m), followed by Commedagh (765m), Bernagh (727m), Meelmore (682m), Meelberg (708m) and then Binnian (747m). The hike concludes with Slieve Lamagan at 704m tall.

The money raised will go on to fund the charity’s support services for cancer patients and their families, in addition to their investment in cancer research.

With more funds still to come in, Raymond has raised £670 on his JustGiving page so far while Justin has raised £225 with more to come.

Raymond and Justin’s part in the weekend hike was spurred on by their previous participation in Ballygalget’s Biggest Loser back in January, which was hosted by the Ballygalget GAC.

Both men lost two stone each in eight weeks. To keep up their new healthy habits, they decided to take part in the Mourne Seven Summits and raise money for a good cause.

Reflecting on his ongoing fitness journey Raymond said after losing the two stones he wondered what he was going to do to continue his fitness challenge.

“This challenge came up and I have been training for it for the past seven weeks,” he said.

“I have been on the Mourne Mountains every weekend, climbing one or two of the peaks for training purposes.

“I have definitely noticed a change in myself, I have been improving and getting fitter, although the most I have done is two mountains in one day.

“My training has been going well and we have been lucky with the weather. Nothing can prepare you for what is going to be happening on the day, all you can do is try and keep fit.

“I think I am fit enough to raise money, and if that money can help anyone that is suffering, it’s fantastic,” added Raymond.

Recalling his own training and fitness journey Justin, said he was keen to continue his fitness routine, especially when Raymond made him aware of the Seven Summits.

“If I can’t get to the mountains to train, I try running hills outside Portaferry,” he said.

“We are doing this for Cancer Focus NI. So, I am quite proud that we are raising for it since it has always been such a good cause,” Justin added.

Donations to Raymond’s efforts can be made at: Justin’s JustGiving page can be found at