"I WAS fine until one day I suddenly couldn’t see," said Kenneth Longstaff.

"I went to A&E where I started to lose the function of my limbs. About 24 hours later I was in respiratory arrest, on a ventilator and only able to hear."

Within the space of a day, the 60-year-old's life was turned upside down. Once admitted in 2012, the former mechanic would not leave hospital again for another three-and-a-half years. He had to learn to breathe on his own, how to speak and eat.

The passionate fell walker was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) – a rare neurological disorder causing the immune system to attack the nervous system, rapidly shutting down the body.

Mr Longstaff spent a year of his gruelling recovery in the James Cook University Hospital intensive care unit. He still requires 24-hour care in his Darlington home after becoming one of the most serious cases ever seen by his consultant.

But throughout his life-changing experience, Mr Longstaff has found unwavering support from others across the regions. Bolstered by their encouragement, the 60-year-old has set himself the challenge of tackling the Latrigg fell in the Lake District this weekend, using a specially adapted wheelchair and the help of a Teesside running club.

“I was a passionate fell walker and love the Lakes so when one of my carers’ husbands, David Barugh, who is in Orchard Eagles Running Club, suggested the sponsored walk I immediately said yes,” he said.

“I have such limited mobility now so one of the few things I can do is art and I paint Lakeland landscapes from my memory, which I do at KeyRing every Wednesday.

“After GBS took hold I attended the day centre at St Teresa’s for more than a year. My wife Beverley and I both had counselling there and I also went for physio, acupuncture reflexology and massage. I met some remarkable people who were so positive despite what they were going through. KeyRing and St Teresa’s are such great organisations and this is a chance to give something back.”

Mr Longstaff has already raised close to £1,200 in sponsorship for Saturday's challenge, which will be divided between St Teresa’s Hospice and the KeyRing disability support group, based at St Columba’s Church, Clifton Avenue.

Chief executive of St Teresa’s Hospice Jane Bradshaw said: "It is amazing that they are now tackling this Lakes expedition, what a brilliant effort, and by doing so helping to keep our services running for the people of Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire.”