Equal to Everybody Else

14 February, 2011
Nik Royale training for his Climbing Wall Award at Awesome Walls in Stockport. © Ray Wood

Nik Royale talks about climbing as having given him a focus and a renewed self-belief. He also feels it has helped him improve his balance and co-ordination. Many climbers can probably identify with these claims. The difference is that Nik is a wheelchair user.

He suffers from a condition described as progressive cerebral palsy. On a good day he can walk unaided but tires quickly. At other times he is wheelchair bound and periodically suffers from debilitating relapses. One episode left him with no feeling from the neck down for nine months. Using a wheelchair on a day-to-day basis helps him conserve energy. Nik lives in constant fear that the time is just around the corner when he'll be unable to fight back from a relapse.

His biggest climbing challenge so far has been to do the training necessary to go forward to assessment for the Mountain Leader Training (MLT) Climbing Wall Award. In this inspiring and honest short film, Equal to Everbody Else, just put online by 2rays Productions, Nik explains his motivations for wanting to try and achieve the Award. The narrative follows his progress to the 'pass or fail' assessment day in October 2009.

Nik first began climbing at the Beacon Climbing Centre in the summer of 2008 that culminated in him making an ascent of First Pinnacle Rib (VD) on Tryfan's east face.

While still enjoying his climbing, Nik is currently concentrating his efforts on raising funds for young people with disabilities whose families are unable to afford equipment such as lightweight wheelchairs; greatly aiding independence and making it easier to participate in sports.