Natalie takes on new 39 steps challenge to raise funds for East Kent Mencap

Natalie is raising funds for East Kent Mencap

In March 2020 Natalie Stephens, who has Down’s syndrome and is an East Kent Mencap regular attending sessions in both Margate and Ramsgate, became ill with Covid and was eventually taken into QEQM Hospital.

A six week fight against the virus meant Natalie spent 15 days on a ventilator, had three bouts of pneumonia and then weeks of work to learn how to move and talk again.

In May 2020, Natalie was finally able to return to her Broadstairs home but the journey to recovery was still ongoing.

Natalie on the day she left ICU and saying thank you to QEQM staff

Despite this courageous Natalie, who lives near the 39 Steps, decided she would set herself a goal to take those 39 steps with the aid of a walker and she raised over £3,000 for East Kent Mencap.

Now she is once again proving her resilience by embarking on a new task as part of East Kent Mencap’s Spring Forward Challenge 2024 fundraiser.

She plans to conquer another 39 steps, this time without her walker, to raise awareness and essential funds for East Kent Mencap, which she has been attending for over 10 years.

East Kent Mencap’s annual Spring Forward Challenge provides a platform for individuals with a learning disability to set personal goals and raise crucial funds for much-needed equipment and resources.

Speaking about her latest challenge, Natalie said: “I have decided to walk 39 steps without the aid of my walker for my Spring Forward Challenge. I want to inspire others to take up a challenge and get involved.”

Maria, Senior Support Worker at East Kent Mencap’s Ramsgate hub which supported Natalie throughout her COVID hospitalisation and recovery, praised her determination.

Maria said: “Natalie has shown incredible perseverance since recovering from COVID. She has overcome many challenges and her decision to take on this challenge is inspiring to everyone.”

Mum Linda

Natalie’s mother, Linda, shared immense pride in her daughter’s positivity. Linda said: “I am so very proud of Natalie. We will never forget the harrowing ordeal she endured with COVID and the long road to recovery that followed.

“I am thrilled that she wants to challenge herself again and to raise money for such a worthy cause that has supported Natalie and so many other people with a learning disability is just fantastic.”

East Kent Mencap supports people with a learning disability to live as independently as possible and to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. The trained specialist team support individuals to build confidence and learn new skills, creating opportunities and choices for people with a learning disability for both now and in the future.

The Spring Forward Challenge has once again received a positive response from the people that use East Kent Mencap services. A host of challenges have already been pledged, from baking cookies and knitting hats to growing chillies and cycling across Thanet.

To support Natalie’s challenge visit her Go Fund Me page at:

To support other people with a learning disability with their Spring Forward Challenge and contribute to East Kent Mencap’s vital work, donations can be made at

If you or someone you care for needs support, get in touch with East Kent Mencap at 01843 808 964 or email [email protected]

A message of hope as Natalie returns home after six week covid battle in QEQM