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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 August 2005, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
Cannabis father rollerblade climb
Terry Hammond
Mr Hammond blames his son's illness on heavy use of cannabis
A father whose son became schizophrenic after long-term cannabis smoking has rollerbladed up Ben Nevis to raise awareness of the issue.

Terry Hammond, from Southampton, took six hours to climb Britain's 4,406ft (1,344m) highest peak in driving rain and bitter cold on Saturday.

His son Stephen, 27, was diagnosed with schizophrenia six years ago.

Mr Hammond said it was probably the hardest thing he had done, but said the reaction of people he met was great.

It has pretty well ruined his young life and had a devastating effect on the family
Terry Hammond
"It was really hard work - it took me six hours in absolutely atrocious weather," Mr Hammond said.

"Some people were pretty amused to see someone roller-blading up a mountain.

"My feet hurt now and I can't wait to have a pint of Guinness in an hour or so's time."

Mr Hammond, who works for the mental health charity Rethink, used rough terrain blades with six-inch tyres.

Stephen Hammond began smoking cannabis when he was 17 and by the time he was 20 he was smoking up to 10 joints a night at weekends.

His illness began as extreme lethargy and increasing paranoia, including the belief that people could hear his thoughts.

Ruined life

He then began having auditory hallucinations in which he heard intrusive voices, for which he is now taking medication.

Mr Hammond said his son had identified his heavy use of cannabis as a trigger for the illness.

He told BBC News: "It has pretty well ruined his young life and had a devastating effect on the family.

"I have worked in mental health for 20 years and to see my son develop this illness and not be able to do anything about it has been dreadful.

London to Paris

"Steve himself is adamant that it was triggered by bingeing on cannabis and his doctors agree that it played significant part in someone who was already vulnerable."

Mr Hammond is an experienced rollerblader and previously travelled from London to Paris on rollerblades in aid of Rethink.

His latest challenge has raised 3,000 for the charity so far and he hopes to increase this to a total of 10,000.

Earlier this year, Rethink called for a House of Commons inquiry into a potential link between cannabis and mental illness.




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