A NORTH Belfast schoolboy is hoping to climb Slieve Donard to raise awareness of children and adults with complex physical needs.

Sean McKinney (16), a Year 12 student at St Malachy’s College on the Antrim Road, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy just before Christmas 2010.

Sean and his family have thrown their support behind Hoist Away Holidays – a project to build a fully, equipped holiday facility in Ballycastle complete with ramps, electric beds and hoists for adults and children with complex physical needs. 

On Saturday, May 4, Sean and around 20 friends and relatives will climb Slieve Donard, the highest mountain in Ulster at 850 metres. They are hoping to raise £850, £1 for every metre climbed for the project.

Speaking to the North Belfast News, Sean's dad, Sean Snr said: "The fundraiser will be very much children-focused, as Sean's young cousin and nephew (who are eight and 15) will take part.

"Four of the children will make the trip from Donegal for the event; the other three are from Belfast. Sean's nephew is Cillian O'Tuama from Andersonstown. Cillian is 11-years-old and is really up for this.

"Slieve Donard is a tough climb and children being prepared to do this for Sean is marvellous.

"Sean is very aware of the lack of suitable disabled holiday accommodation and has organised the fundraiser to help make the dream of Sharon and Richard Douglas from Hoist Away Holidays come true, to see this facility finally built and up and running.

"Richard is also a wheelchair user and is fully aware also of the lack of suitable holiday facilities for disabled people.

"The fact that Sean, the organiser of the event, will be the only person not staying overnight in Newcastle after the walk speaks volumes for the dearth of suitable holiday accommodation for those with complex physical needs."