Moving Mountains for ALERT
July 27 2015

Become the voice that will be heard

First I volunteered, then I was an intern, but throughout I’ve always been a passionate supporter for ALERT. My six months as a Fundraising and Marketing intern meant I was well placed to see first-hand what difference a great fundraising campaign can make to charity.  As with any industry there is no short supply of competition, made tougher by trying to raise awareness for the cause at the same time, the two do come hand-in-hand.  With so many worthwhile causes out there, it’s always tough to get people to part with their hand-earned cash and convince them why your cause is the one to support.  I believe a good way is to really push yourself into doing something that will make somebody say ‘wow that’s incredible, I could never do something like that’ then you’ve made donating the easy part of the bargain!

Don’t just stand there - do something!

A perfect opportunity arose when my dear old father decided to put together a team to take on the very daunting Three Peaks Challenge.  The challenge involves tackling the three highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland…all in a mere 24 hours!  As well as subjecting your body to intense hard work exercise, there are also other external factors that are out of your control and can be quite unpredictable - bad traffic, poor weather conditions (the UK is renowned for this!), or even just a bad reaction to altitude can cost you precious time.

To ensure we were all at the peak (pun intended) of our physical fitness, we organised many group training days.  We ‘yomped’ through forests to prepare our legs for uneven landscape, we sprinted up hills - one we aptly named ‘the stairway to hell’ to build our strength.  It was really great training as part of a team, it really did help us to pull together and was even, dare I say it, a lot of fun!

Let the challenge commence!

On Friday 10th July, my alarm woke me at 4am, I can’t say I leapt out of bed but I was pretty excited!  After a whole day of travelling, picking up the hire van and stocking up on high energy foods, finally, at 6.30pm we stood at the bottom of Ben Nevis (Scotland), our first peak and the highest of all three - a whole 1344m of mountain towering above us.

Start the clock!  We had five hours to ascend and descend this monster so not a moment to waste.  Everyone was in high spirits and the further we climbed, our limbs began to complain.  We climbed and climbed, it seemed there was no end in sight.  But upwards we trudged, past nosey sheep and through snow, surely that meant we were near the top?  But if we’d thought the upwards journey was tough, it had nothing on the descent!  Night had fallen by this point so the head torches came out, the rocks were slippery and we each lost our footing more times than I could count.  We, quite literally, crashed to the bottom but there was no time to celebrate - we jumped straight back into the van and off we travelled down to England.

It was a restless night, I managed to get an hour of sleep and I was one of the lucky ones.  A motorway closure looked like it could set us back but we put our faith in our driver, my dad’s friend, who’s quick thinking and great driving ability gave us back the time.

Before we knew it, Scafell Pike loomed above up - our second peak, ‘only’ 978m in height but the steepest climb of all three.  The stiffness had set in and we found it really hard to pick up our feet.  We all felt quite ill and nauseous which was quite possibly due to lack of sleep and changes in altitude in a very short space of time.  My uncle, who was on the team, is a rock climber, has featured in climbing magazines, has at some point climbed possibly every mountain in the UK and even conquered the base camp of Everest - came over very ill, proving no one is exempt from altitude sickness.  The visibility was so poor we had to stick closely together, the wind had picked up and the heavens opened - soaking us all down to our bones.  The rocky terrain and lack of path made this mountain very difficult to navigate and we actually passed other climbers who had turned back because they’d lost their way and had found themselves on a cliffs edge.  To add to this, we’d left the map in the van!  My uncle being the only one to have climbed this mountain before was the only reason we made it to the top.  I’m so proud of him because he was so ill and could have retreated back to the carpark, but he knew we wouldn’t have stood a chance of finding our way so carried on with us.

Despite the conditions and much to our surprise we’d made great time and when we got the bottom we peeled our drenched clothes off and poured (yes, poured) water from our boots.  But still no time for celebrations with another mountain to conquer first.  Back into our cramped van and so we continued onto Wales…

Snow-done!

Have you ever experienced that awful moment when you put on wet clothing and wet shoes?  Even so, it was almost a relief to arrive here as I had been (wrongly!) informed this would be the ‘easiest’ of all mountains (1085m) and a nice one to finish up on!  Ho, ho, ho!  Aye, there were some brief moments of respite on the flatter parts of the trek but in the far distance we could see the top of the mountain and kept puzzling over how we would get up there - we’d been walking for so long, the ground was relatively flat and yet the peak was miles away.

My answer was quickly delivered to me upon arriving at the bottom of a ridge where we had to scramble on all fours for the rest of the climb.  By this point, the weather had taken a turn for the worse and didn’t give any signs of letting up.  It felt very dangerous, as though the wind could just sweep you away.  The rain became horizontal and we could barely see metres in front of us.  There is a train on Snowdon that transports people up and down the mountain, a very tempting thought but we couldn’t see a thing!  Our temperature gage was showing 2 degrees Celsius, which feels a lot colder when wet with a powerful wind nipping away at you.  At this point I felt as though we might NEVER feel warmth again.  We actually later found out that people who were still climbing as we made our way down had actually been turned away by Mountain Rescue due to the danger of being blown off the ridge!  We’d had a narrow escape, it would have been a real shame after coming all this way.

Despite all of our discomforts we managed to find the strength to actually run across our finish line - laughing, hugging, high-fiving!!  What a feeling!  What a team!  We had actually done it in UNDER 24 hours against all odds!!!

In the mood to celebrate, we landed in a local pub but, sad to say (and unheard of for me), I couldn’t even finish my glass of wine - it was past time for rest!!

You can make the difference

We raised around £1,500 (including Gift Aid), which has been allocated to ALERT’s initiative with The Midlands Children’s Hope Centre, working with orphans and vulnerable children aiming to rehabilitate them back into mainstream society and education.  Many of these children have faced difficulties we could never imagine - abandonment or escaping abuse.  Unflinching dedication has been required to build trust and provide some respite from the very adult situations they face daily.

With my hand on my heart I can honestly say I would keenly take on those aches and pains, stiff knees and burning thighs all over again for the difference we have made to the lives of those children.  I am eternally grateful the support we’ve received and for all the team who pulled together with unmatched camaraderie and a cracking sense of humour throughout.

I’m guessing that if you are reading this, it’s because you too hold the same love as I do for ALERT.  Now is the time to show it!  You CAN make a difference!  There are plenty of ways to raise money - a big challenge like the Three Peaks, or a series of smaller events; a BBQ with friends and family, a party, a pet pageant - be as wacky and creative as you like!  Fundraising is fun and it brings people together.  I’ve had an experience of a lifetime, and I did all of that whilst raising money which will impact the lives of others and spreading the word about my favourite charity!

It's not too late to show Ruby your support. Visit her online fundraising page here.

If you would like to join the Pride of ALERT Fundraising Network and organise your own fundraising events, please email Helen at helen@lionalert.org for more details.

For details of the ALERT Internship Program, please visit our website.

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