Arthritis Ireland have been a wealth of knowledge and support for me during my time adjusting to a life with RA. Their mission means a lot to people like me and all the help they receive is put to good use, funding research in to new treatments and therapies that can completely change someone's ability to live with this disease.

My own story, the reason behind wanting to help Arthritis Ireland, is that for the last 3 years I've suffered with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis, and have struggles in the first instance to get treatment, to find the right help, and to stave off the worst effects that delaying treatment causes. I spent a lot of the first two years unable quite often to do basic things like get in and out of a bath, to walk for any length, to climb stairs, and even sometimes brushing teeth was near impossible. I tried all sorts of treatments, both here and at my original home in NI, where I was seen under the NHS also. Nothing worked. I was made redundant from my job, and once hiring managers were aware of my mobility issues, it became very difficult to get back in to work again. Going from always getting chosen at interview, to being passed over for everything I applied for is soul destroying, and it affected my mental health quite a bit. Only for the support of family and then meeting my new partner just over a year and a half ago, I'd have struggled to get through it. I've always been a very physically fit and active person, and to have that taken away changed my whole life.

Last year I finally got see by a specialist consultant in Kilkenny and I have a combination of treatments now that are helping me to live a more normal life, albeit with chronic pain. I still have much higher levels of the various disease markers than I should, but being able to move and work and having the motivation and positivity to keep going prevents me from letting the disease be the defining part of my life.

I set myself a challenge for this year to get more active again, and get back some of my fitness, whilst trying to help others at the same time who may need the support of someone like Arthritis Ireland. As such, I looked at various ways to fundraise and decided upon climbing the tallest peak in Ireland. I'm hoping to have a fairly decent sized group of people do the climb along with me, each trying to raise funds on behalf of this fundraiser. I really hope we can secure a good amount for the brilliant work Arthritis Ireland do.

Jonathan Bailie