Selfless quad amputee, 10, raises thousands for disabled children by summiting 'his Everest' in Yorkshire
Luke Mortimer felt "very proud" to summit Embsay Crag, in North Yorkshire, dubbed his 'Everest', so he could "return the favour" to charities that had helped him. The kind-hearted youngster was just seven years old when he contracted the severe bacterial infections meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia.
Although he survived the deadly illnesses, he lost all his limbs and needed 23 painful surgeries over a ten-week period to replace missing skin and address his wounds. Luke's family later relocated to a bungalow in Embsay, near Skipton, which volunteer group Band of Builders helped his dad, Adam Mortimer, adapt for him in September.
But ever since the move in 2019, the plucky lad has had ambitions to summit the nearby crag, which he can see from the garden of his rural home. Following his successful summit on Saturday (Nov 4), Luke said he was amazed to have raised so much money - after initially hoping to make just £500.
He said: "It was tough, but I felt on top of the world. I'm really happy, and as well as that, I'm also pretty shocked. I thought we'd just get to £500, next minute we're at over £11,000. At the top, I told everybody 'I want you to shout, 'We've cracked the crag', and we all shouted it.
"It was tiring and tough, but when I got to the top I was very proud of myself. Everybody was really kind for coming out to support me."
Luke's dad Adam, 49, said 40 hikers had journeyed from all over the UK to climb the peak with Luke and hailed his son's efforts as a "massive achievement"
He was also surprised at how much money they'd raised for charities LimbPower and the BBC's Children in Need - after Luke appeared on its show last year.
Adam said: "We had some people who had seen the challenge on the news and had come from Sheffield and Chesterfield. We did it in a little over two hours, which was pretty good going. It was a massive achievement to get up. Luke was super proud. It was brilliant. It was great to get over £10,000. A big thank you to all the people who came out, who supported us and donated to us. It really meant a lot."
Luke, previously a keen rugby player for Skipton RFC in North Yorkshire, was first struck down with meningococcal meningitis on December 13, 2019. He was transferred to Sheffield Children's Hospital, where doctors found life-threatening septicaemia, also known as blood poisoning, had developed in his body.
Writing at the time of the incident John Firth, a family friend who set up a donation page for him, said his rugby-mad family's life had been "turned upside down".
He said: "Luke was a budding 7-year-old rugby player, a bundle of joy who even at a young age had embraced life and every day was a happy day.
"His whole family was part of the rugby community, with his dad coaching many age-grade youngsters and his mum, running a children's rugby kit recycling stall, so that the young boys and girls, always had the right gear to play and train in.
"However, whilst the rest of us were buying and wrapping presents ready for Christmas, the family's life was turned upside down. Luke's young life was saved, however, the disease has taken its toll on his little body. He has proven he is a fighter, however, his life and the life of his mum, dad and his big brother will never be the same."
Over the next few years, Luke endured endless sessions of physiotherapy and rehabilitation, while always wearing his trademark beaming smile. He later learned to walk - and run - on prosthetic legs.
After receiving £15,000 worth of donations from an army of well-wishers, he also got his first robotic 'hero' arm so he could do more for himself.
The bungalow where Luke now lives with his brother Harry Mortimer, 14, and mum Christine Mortimer was previously changed for a man who was paralysed.
Volunteer organisation Band of Builders later helped his dad Adam fit it with a remarkable range of new adaptions, which were unveiled on September 3 this year.
Adam previously described Luke's two-mile challenge, which began from Embsay Reservoir at 10am on Saturday morning, as his 'Everest'.
He'd said: "For Luke, this is a huge thing. It's above a normal walk for even me, so for Luke, it's quite a tough challenge. It is kind of his 'Everest'. If you just did it purely on his stride, it's half of anybody else's. So it's almost like if I'm walking a mile, he's walking two."
Click here to donate to Luke's appeal.