Trek of a life­time


Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

ONE sand­storm, sev­eral blis­ters and hun­dreds of thou­sands of steps later, this year’s Hospice of St Fran­cis trek team is cel­e­brat­ing af­ter walk­ing 50km across the Sa­hara Desert and rais­ing an amaz­ing £64k for hospice care.

The 20-strong group of in­trepid ad­ven­tur­ers from across Bucks and Herts, spent two full days and two half days trekking across an­cient dried-up river beds, gi­ant sand dunes and vast sun-baked plains be­fore set­ting up camp for the night and sleep­ing un­der a blan­ket of stars.

The group rounded off the trip with a two-day com­mu­nity project help­ing to im­prove con­di­tions at a cen­tre for street chil­dren and a home for the el­derly in Mar­rakesh.

The trekkers walked for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons – some in mem­ory of loved ones who have been cared for by the hospice, while oth­ers took part for the per­sonal chal­lenge and un­for­get­table mem­o­ries.

The old­est mem­ber of the group, Chris Mil­ner, 71, from Darvell Drive, Che­sham, walked in mem­ory of his wife Carol, who died at the hospice in Fe­bru­ary 2016.

He said the ex­pe­ri­ence had been life-chang­ing and af­ter a year of train­ing for the trek, he now walks nearly ev­ery­where he goes.

“The whole ex­pe­ri­ence has been ab­so­lutely marvel­lous,” he said.

“I had never done any­thing like this or been in­volved in a group like this be­fore so I was slightly ap­pre­hen­sive but even though ev­ery­one had their own rea­son for be­ing there, we all gelled bril­liantly and we quickly be­came one team.

“I did a lot of train­ing be­fore­hand to get my­self ready for the trek, which re­ally paid off be­cause de­spite be­ing the old­est in the group, I didn’t find the con­di­tions too dif­fi­cult to cope with.”

Chris, who raised nearly £3,000 for the hospice dur­ing a year of fundrais­ing, added: “I would def­i­nitely rec­om­mend any­one to take on a trek for the hospice.

“It is such a fan­tas­tic place and they cared for Carol so well and looked af­ter all the fam­ily in the days af­ter she died, I felt I needed to do some­thing to give some­thing back.

“It was also a chance to prove some­thing to my­self and my fam­ily and as a re­sult, I’m a lot fit­ter and health­ier than I was be­fore, which has done me the world of good.”

Lucy Hume, head of com­mu­nity fundrais­ing at the hospice, who ac­com­pa­nied the group on the trip, said the ca­ma­raderie among the trekkers was in­cred­i­ble.

“Even when a sand­storm hit and we had to take shel­ter for an af­ter­noon and a night in our tents, spir­its re­mained high.

“I have noth­ing but ad­mi­ra­tion for them all for what they’ve achieved and the fan­tas­tic amount of money they have raised to help the hospice con­tinue to sup­port peo­ple to live their pre­cious lives well. It truly was an ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time.”

The hospice’s next trek to In­dia will take place from Novem­ber 7 to 17 2019 and in­volve four days’ trekking 50km through the lush green tea plan­ta­tions of south­ern In­dia’s trop­i­cal Ker­ala re­gion at al­ti­tudes of up to 2,640 me­tres.

It will end with a two-day project at a chil­dren’s hospice in Trivandrum, tak­ing part in ac­tiv­i­ties to help im­prove ser­vices for chil­dren and their fam­i­lies.

Any­one who signs up be­fore the end of Novem­ber will re­ceive a £25 dis­count on the £395 regis­tra­tion fee.

For more in­for­ma­tion email [email protected]­ or visit www.stfran­­dia.

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