Why did you embark on this series of challenges?
I decided that I wanted to raise funds for St Elizabeth Hospice. I had previously worked there as a community fundraiser – what it does is incredible. However, the cost to run the facility is more than £9 million a year and 75% of this must be found through fundraising. It has spurred me on to do as much as I can.
What have you done?
I’ve taken part in a number of challenges, including a sky-dive, a Christmas Day dip in the North Sea, abseiling down the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London and walking on fire and glass.
How did the sky-dive idea come about?
I’m an adrenaline junkie at heart and if I do something for charity, it has to be as out there as possible so I can raise a lot of money. The hospice regularly advertises challenges, so when I saw sky-diving my tummy flipped. When you’re balanced on the edge of the light aircraft, the fear really does kick in. However, as soon as you are in the air, the feeling is amazing. I raised £420 as a result.
Why did you decide to abseil down the ArcelorMittal Orbit?
The problem when you fundraise is that you feel that you always have to look for a more extreme challenge than the last. Once you actually see the height of the Orbit, the fear sets in. It was much worse than sky-diving. This is by far the scariest challenge I have done, but I raised £500.
What is the biggest challenge you have taken on?
I decided to go for Machu Picchu. While this is way out of my comfort zone, it’s also within reach – unlike Everest! Peru and the Inca Trail had always been on my bucket list, so it was amazing to do it. And there’s the added bonus that I can speak from personal experience when talking to customers.
How did you prepare for the trek?
I was doing some very long walks to get me to where I needed to be – physically and mentally. I started training around six months before I left. The hospice has its own gym and allowed me to come in out of hours to use the treadmill – it was a big help.
What was the most difficult part of the climb?
On the second day, we trekked for eight hours to our maximum height of 4,600m above sea level! You can’t really prepare for altitude, so I did get sick with headaches. The climb itself was over very rough terrain and rapid streams, and at night it dropped to -13C.
What was the best moment on the trek?
The high point of the entire trip for me has got to be the final day. It was also a very hard day with six hours of trekking up high stone steps. But once you reach the Sun Gate and see Machu Picchu for the first time, all of the pain goes away. The feeling of accomplishment was so incredible and overwhelming. It’s something that I will never forget.
How much money did you raise?
The reaction I have received from the hospice has been fantastic. When I got home, all of the patients and nurses wanted to hear about my adventure. To date, I have raised £5,607. My target was £5,000, so I’m over the moon and hope that the afternoon tea I’m hosting soon will take me to £6,000. These funds will help St Elizabeth Hospice to carry on its invaluable services.