We are always looking to spread the word about our story, with a view to raising much needed awareness and funding for MND research. Please click on the links below to see where our challenge has featured in the media. We have also uploaded clippings from the physical publications. If you would like to cover our story, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
East Lothian Courier [July 2020]
FOUR siblings are joining forces to finish what their parents started and bag each of Scotland’s Munros after their dad was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND).
David Choat, often along with wife Judy, both 66, had scaled more than 250 of Scotland’s highest peaks before he was diagnosed with the condition in November 2017.
Now, his children Paul, Matt, Becky and Adam are getting ready to tick off the remaining 14 mountains, which total 14,417 metres.
Paul, who lives in Macmerry with wife Becca and nine month-old daughter Skye, said: “As soon as it became apparent that dad would not be able to finish them off, it was something we came up with, despite not knowing how much they still had to do.
“We started tossing round the idea at Christmas time and we really proposed the idea then.
“By that point, I had spoken to my siblings and they were on board.
“We sat down with mum and dad and proposed the idea.
“Both were really keen on the whole thing.
“It was an idea for us to get mum up the hills as well.
“Without dad, she has been missing out on it a bit and, from dad's point of view, to get to the end of the list would mean a fair amount, even if he cannot do it himself.”
From there came the idea of raising funds for My Name'5 Doddie Foundation, formed by former Scotland rugby internationalist Doddie Weir, who himself has MND.
Paul, 34, described it as a “no brainer” to raise funds for the good cause, which aims to find a cure for the condition or improve treatment.
Fifteen Munros remained to be ticked off until the weekend before last, when Paul was joined by older brother Adam - who lives in Haddington with wife Samantha and sons Leon and Lochlan - in scaling the 1,117-metre An Stuc, near Killin.
Paul said: “It was not too bad. We were a bit sore the next day but not too bad.”
Matt, who lives in London, and Becky, of Livingston, were unable to climb the first Munro with them but have committed to tackling the remaining 14.
Seven more could be achieved by the end of next month, with A' Chralaig (1,112m), Mullach Fraoch-choire (1,102m), Carn nan Gobhar (Glen Cannich) (993m), Ciste Dhubh (979m), Sgurr na Banachdich (965m) and Bla Bheinn (929m) all pencilled in.
That would just leave Creise (1,100m), Sgor na h-Ulaidh (994m), Beinn Fhionnlaidh (959m), Beinn Sgulaird (937m), Stob Coire an Laoigh (1,116m), Meall a' Bhuiridh (1,108m) and Sgurr Mor (1,003m) to be ticked off in 2021.
Paul said his dad, who lives with his wife in Aberdeen, had wanted to complete the 282 Munros after finding out he was closing in on the total. He said: “My dad was unbelievably healthy and fit. They would be out walking and most of their holidays revolved around walking tours.
“Just generally, they were very active and very healthy so the diagnosis was a bit of a bolt out of the blue.
“It was devastating; my dad had retired the year before and my mum and dad had big plans for retirement, all of which have pretty much fallen through.”
Paul told the Courier his dad remained upbeat and “unbelievably positive” despite the MND diagnosis.
The condition affects the nerves that enable people to move, speak, breathe and swallow.
The family “cautiously” set a target of £2,000 but had smashed that before they even laced up their walking boots. Paul added: “the fact we hit £7,500 before we set off was just incredible.
“The support we have had has been unbelievable; lots of donations from strangers. We have had donations from Canada, Australia and France - it has been amazing.”
SCRUM Magazine [March 2020]
Like the 67,143 around him at BT Murrayfield on 18 November 2017, Paul Choat was touched when Doddie Weir came out onto the pitch before kick-off at the Autumn Test between Scotland and the All Blacks.
An ex-Scotland internationalist and British and Irish Lion, Doddie announced the creation of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation after telling the world of his diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
Weeks later Paul’s father, David Choat, was diagnosed with the condition, which spurred him into taking action to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
Paul, 34, along with his three siblings: Adam, 31, Rebecca, 37 and Matt, 40, have started Munros 4 MND. After Paul’s father conquered 267 of 282 Munros in Scotland, his children have vowed to climb the last 15 in his honour along with support from friends and family.
Paul spoke to SCRUM about his inspirational father: “He's basically always been a very outdoors type person, very sporty. My mum is also pretty sporty, but it was my dad who really wanted to take us all golfing or up mountains, playing football or rugby and all those kinds of things.”
Both parents initially didn’t tell their children of David’s diagnosis in 2017 but as symptoms of the conditions started to progress quickly the family was informed about a year later. “They were quite keen to keep things as normal as they could for us for as long as they could.
“Since then the symptoms have all progressed pretty quickly. He's still walking but struggles to feel his feet anymore.
“He's got two walking sticks so it's pretty slow going. Things like tying shoelaces and doing up buttons and zips, he can't really do any of that himself anymore. He usually needs a bit of help getting ready in the morning but he's unbelievably positive about it all.”
Fortunately, he has been able to form a close bond with new grand-daughter (Paul’s daughter) Skye and he continues to inspire hope.
Paul added: “They say that 50% of people don't survive longer than two years after diagnosis. We're now at two years and a few months and he is still walking, can still thankfully speak.”
After following Doddie’s journey, Paul and his wife Becca said that choosing to raise money for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation was an “easy decision”.
He added: “Jill Douglas, who's the CEO, has been amazing support has been really helpful in backing us up with anything and everything we've asked for help with,” said Paul.
Since they started fundraising at the end of last year, Munros 4 MND have smashed their initial £2000 target. At the time of writing, they have surpassed the £4,000 and now aim to hit £10,000 before they climb their last Munro.
Paul and Becca also spoke of the support they have received from the online MND community receiving donations from as far as the USA and getting recognition from some big advocates of MND awareness such as Charlotte Hawkins and Jeremy Vine.
Upon hearing the interest Paul and his siblings had gathered, David was keen to get involved in any way possible and has now been promoted to ‘Chief Planner’.
“We're not exactly mountaineers,” said Paul, grateful for his father’s more experienced input. “We’re kind of fair weather, Munro climbers.”
It’s clear that climbing holds fond memories for the family and Paul recalls one of the times he first went out with his dad.
“I remember talking with my mum and dad when they first started climbing Munros, and my dad being competitive started talking about how they were going to do them all. We all kind of thought ‘oh yeah, whatever’. My mum's not good with heights at all. She had said there's a few on Skye that she wasn't very keen on doing, due to the heights and things and one in particular called the Inaccessible Pinnacle (In Pin). She said; ‘If we ever get to that stage you'll have to do it with dad’ and I was like ‘yeah, of course, no bother.’
“Move forward more than a decade later and my dad called me up and said; ‘right so we're going to Skye so you can come and help me do the In Pin. I suddenly regretted suggesting I’d do that. Me and my older brother did it with him and it was the most terrifying thing I've ever done in my life. But we did it and we got it ticked off. That was only a couple of months before he was diagnosed, it was one of the last ones he actually did.”
Paul and his family hope to climb all 15 remaining Munros within the next two years.
STV News [Feb 2020]
A group of siblings are preparing to hike 15 mountains which their father is unable to complete after being diagnosed with MND.
Former oil worker David Choat was a fit and healthy father-of-four who loved ‘Munro bagging’ with his wife Judy in their spare time – until he was given his devastating diagnosis in 2017.
After the couple, both 66, shared the news with the rest of their family, their children rallied round and decided to pay tribute to their father’s beloved pastime – while raising money for MND charity My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
The family, from Aberdeen, are now planning to tackle the 15 Munros – Scottish mountains more than 3000 feet – between June this year and the summer of 2021.
Motor neurone disease (MND) is a debilitating illness that affects the brain and nerves – shortening sufferers’ lifespans – and in most cases results in death, with no known cure.
The couple’s son Paul, 34, said his parents kept the diagnosis to themselves before revealing it to the family months later around November 2017.
Paul, who was at the Scotland v New Zealand rugby game in November 2017 when Doddie Weir launched his charity, said: “I was at that game but had no idea my dad had been diagnosed.
“It was pretty devastating.
“Him and my mum decided to keep it between themselves at first because the symptoms weren’t obvious and I think was to give them a chance to process everything and keep things as normal as possible for as long as possible.
“It’s been really tough as a family but we’re lucky that we’re really close to support each other and our mum and dad.
“He’s still walking and his speech hasn’t been affected yet, so he’s beating the odds so far and staying unbelievably positive about it all.”
Paul told how for years his mum and dad racked up 267 Munros and relished the outdoors.
He said: “Ever since we were kids our mum and dad have been very active.
“My dad worked for Shell and travelled abroad for his job then settled in Aberdeen around school age.
“From there they started ticking off Munros one by one and tried to convince us to join them.
“That’s how they spent their free time.
“It’s been ongoing for the past 25 years.”
Paul, who runs a property maintenance company, said he and his sister Becky, 37, and brothers Adam, 31, and Matt, 40, revealed the Munro and fundraising idea to their parents while at the family home at Christmas.
He said: “For the fundraiser we decided we didn’t want to step on dad’s toes because he was still determined to complete them.
“But he eventually realised it wouldn’t be possible.
“After that we decided to combine our efforts into something.
“He had 15 left so we want to complete those and raise money along the way.
“We floated the idea to mum and dad.
“Mum said she’d be really keen to join us and dad would help with the organising.
“As much as I enjoy the outdoors I wouldn’t say I’m in perfect trim to go climbing mountains.
“But it’s good that we’re all coming together as a family.
“As much as it’s about raising the money it’s also about coming together as a family and helping mum and dad.”
Starting in June, the family will travel to Cuillin range on the Isle of Skye to hike up Sgurr na Banachdich and Bla Bheinn.
Afterwards they will attempt An Stuc near Loch Tay, Perth and Kinross, and in August they plan on taking a week off to complete five Munros near Inverness.
Paul admitted that the logistics of the challenge are ‘tricky’ as Matt lives in London.
He said: “We’re all quite scattered throughout the UK.
“The organisation is quite tricky.
“We’re hoping to do half this year then the other half next year.
“Most of the ones left are in the middle of nowhere.”
Having raised £2737 since the beginning of January and exceeded their target already, Paul said the family aim to keep going until they complete their Munro mission.
He said: “We initially set out to raise £2000 but are already past that.
“None of us have seen a Munro since the fundraiser started but we just want to raise as much as we can.
“It’s been amazing the generosity shown by people so far.
“We didn’t think we’d get as much support as we have.
“We’ll just continue and see where we get to.”
The Sun [Feb 2020]
15 peaks for ill dad
THREE brothers and a sister will tackle 15 Munros as a tribute to their dad who suffers from motor neurone disease.
Adam, Paul, Matt and Becky Choat will hike the 3,000ft-plus peaks David had still to do.
David, 66, of Aberdeen, had racked up 267 of the 282 mountains before he was diagnosed in 2017.
Adam, 31, Paul, 34, Becky, 37, and Matt, 40, will take on the challenge between June this year and summer 2021.
Cash raised will go to rugby idol Doddie Weir’s MND charity My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
Paul said: “We’re coming together as a family”
The Herald [Feb 2020]
Not so long ago, David Choat was a fit and healthy father-of-four who loved nothing more than to go Munro-bagging with his wife Judy.
So passionate was he about Scotland’s grandest peaks that he climbed all but 15 of them.
But in 2017 the life of the former oil worker from Aberdeen was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND), a debilitating brain and nerve condition that causes weakness over time and is usually fatal. There is no known cure.
The family was initially devastated by the news.
But now Mr Choat’s children have rallied round and will pay tribute to his beloved pastime by tackling the 15 Munros he has not been able to climb.
Munros are mountains in Scotland with a height of more than 3,000 feet. There are 282, according to the revised list that was published by the Scottish Mountaineering Club in 2012. This does not include 227 Munro Tops – peaks with an altitude of over 3,000 feet but which are considered a subsiduary top of the nearby primary mountain.
The siblings plan to begin their challenge in June and complete it by summer next year, while raising money for Doddie Weir’s MND charity My Name’5 Doddie.
Mr Choat’s son, Paul, 34, said his parents, both 66, kept the diagnosis to themselves before revealing it to the family months later around November 2017.
Paul, who was at the Scotland v New Zealand rugby game in November 2017 when Weir launched his charity, said: “I was at that game but had no idea my dad had been diagnosed. It was pretty devastating.
“Him and my mum decided to keep it between themselves at first because the symptoms weren’t obvious and I think that was to give them a chance to process everything and keep things as normal as possible for as long as possible.
“It’s been really tough as a family but we’re lucky we’re really close to support each other and our mum and dad. “He’s still walking and his speech hasn’t been affected yet, so he’s beating the odds so far and staying unbelievably positive about it all.”
Paul told how, for years, his mother and father racked up 267 Munros and relished the outdoors.
“Ever since we were children our mum and dad have been very active,” he said.
“He worked for Shell and travelled abroad for his job then settled in Aberdeen around the time us children were of school age.
“From there they started ticking off Munros one by one and tried to convince us to join them. That’s how they spent their free time. It’s been continuing for the past 25 years.”
Paul, who runs a property maintenance company, said he and his sister Becky, 37, and brothers Adam, 31, and Matt, 40, revealed the Munros and fundraising idea to their parents while at the family home last Christmas.
“For the fundraiser we decided we didn’t want to step on dad’s toes because he was still determined to complete them,” he said.
“But he eventually realised it wouldn’t be possible. After that we decided to combine our efforts into something.
“He had 15 left so we want to complete those and raise money along the way. We floated the idea to mum and dad.
“Mum said she’d be really keen to join us and dad would help with the organising. As much as I enjoy the outdoors I wouldn’t say I’m in perfect trim to go climbing mountains.
“But it’s good that we’re all coming together as a family. As much as it’s about raising the money it’s also about coming together as a family and helping mum and dad.”
Starting in June, the family will travel to the Cuillin range on Skye and the Highlands to hike up Sgurr na Banachdich and Bla Bheinn.
Afterwards they aim to reach the summit of An Stuc, near Loch Tay, Perth and Kinross, and in August they plan on taking a week off to complete five Munros near Inverness.
Having raised £2,737 since the beginning of January and exceeded their target already, Paul said the family aim to keep going until they complete their Munro mission.
The Press and Journal [Jan 2020]
Four siblings are coming together to make their father’s dream of “bagging” nearly 300 mountains come true following his devastating MND diagnosis.
David Choat, 66, and his wife Judy have spent the last 25 years ticking off the Munros with the hopes of becoming part of the elite group of mountaineers who have summited all 282 peaks.
A year after his retirement in 2017, however, David was diagnosed with MND – a life-limiting, rapidly-progressing disease that affects the brain and mobility.
His son Paul, 34, said Mr Choat had been looking forward to retirement with the prospect of completing the remaining 15 Munros.
However, his condition made it nearly impossible for him to continue.
It was then that his four children – Paul, Matt, Becky and Adam – came together and decided they would take on the challenge in their father’s name, all the while raising money and awareness for MND.
Paul said: “Mum and dad have always been quite outdoorsy. As far as I can remember, we were always being dragged up mountains left, right and centre growing up.
“I think mum always enjoyed the walking and the scenery, but for dad it became more of a competition.
“Sometime in 2000, he got hold of a map with the tick boxes and decided he would mark off each Munro.
“After dad retired in 2016, the idea was that they could take their time doing the last Munros, but then a year later dad got the devastating diagnosis.
“The news sent shockwaves through our family and is something we are still coming to terms with.
“They’ve tried to go up a few mountains since then but the disease takes a hold so quickly that there’s no way to get up anymore.”
Paul added that his father is fiercely competitive and when it came to summiting, the box on his map wouldn’t get ticked unless he reached the highest point of the mountain.
Over Christmas, the four siblings got together and decided to get their father over the finish line – with mum Judy leading the way.
“For mum, she didn’t want to complete it without dad there – so that’s when we proposed doing them on his behalf,” he said.
“We’re determined to finish it while raising funds for MND research through the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
“We’re all scattered around, with one of my brothers in London, so, we’ve got some logistics to work through.
“We want this to be a real family event, every time we come together.”
The siblings will reunite in June on Skye where they hope to tackle two Munros followed by the Loch Mullardoch Munros in August.
My Name'5 Doddie Foundation [Jan 2020]
The Choat family have set themselves a mountainous task to honour their parents' love of Munro "bagging" and raise funds for My Name'5 Doddie Foundation.
Over the past 25 years, David and Judy Choat from Aberdeen have been ticking off the Munros throughout Scotland one by one, with the aim of joining the very elite group of mountaineers who have "bagged" all 282. After retiring in 2016 having completed the vast majority of the Munros, the prospect of finishing the list was becoming very real, however In 2017 David was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease.
The news sent shockwaves through the family and is something they are still coming to terms with. Currently there is no cure, nor any effective treatment. Watching anyone go through something like this is heartbreaking, but watching someone you love suffer daily, with no prospect of recovery is unbearable. On top of the physical pain is the prospect that so many of David and his wife, Judy's plans for retirement will never be fulfilled.
At last count, the couple had completed a very impressive 267 of 282 Munros. This leaves 15 outstanding. Devastatingly, David is no longer able to complete these; and that's where the family comes in. Their four children, Paul, Matt, Adam and Becky have decided to act as their Dad's proxy to get them over the line. With David's help on the planning front and Judy leading the kids up the mountains, and the rest of the family poised and ready to help out, they are determined to finish off the list, and in doing so, raise some much needed funding for the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation to further the research into MND.
We wish them every success!