Seventeen inspirational fundraisers have returned home from a challenging five day charity trek through the fascinating region of North India at the heart of the Himalaya’s, the world’s highest mountain range. The overseas adventure wasn’t just about facing tough terrain, they had plenty thrown at them from start to finish including experiencing an overnight Indian sleeper train, snow, thunder and lightning storms and really went back to basics at camp. Between them, the team has raised an amazing combined total surpassing £30,000 towards the The Forever Friends Appeal’s RUH Cancer Care Campaign – which is fundraising for a world class new Centre at the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
The trekking team, of which four are staff at the Hospital, included: Gisela Barcat-Angelelli, Katrina Bride, Becky Brooks, Diana Dixon, Christina Ferreira, Lindsey Hobbs, Ines Martins, Ashley Nesbitt, Victoria Owen, Helen Pyne, Fiona Ryall, Sandra Sach, Debbie Saffin, Surrinder Sandham-Bains, Tim Shire, Frankie Simpkins and Kirsty Thompson.
Each of the seventeen trekkers have their own personal reasons and stories for taking part, but all had one thing in common – a dedication to support their local hospital and help transform cancer services for the future. They arrived at the start as strangers but by the end of the very first day friendships were already forming, with plenty of comradery, jokes and an understanding of each other’s personal journeys.
The team began the challenge in Dehli, jumping straight in and getting out of their comfort zones with the first of many adventures….almost missing their sleeper train because of Delhi’s infamous colorful and chaotic traffic! Having travelled five miles in two and a half hours in the coach the group decided to get out and make a run for the last mile to the station on foot. With seven minutes to spare, they boarded the sleeper train for a 10 hour journey to Pathankot and then straight onto Dharamsala – home to the Dalai Lama and the start and finish point of the five day trek that lay ahead.
Trekking up to eight hours a day the group faced many ascents and descents, river and suspension bridge crossings through pine forests and up to a glacial field. When the going got tough, musician in residence at the RUH Frankie Simpkins, boosted morale with impromptu sing-a-longs to keep spirits high. They were also able to immerse themselves in much of the traditional culture, passing through charming villages warmly greeted by the locals, Hindu settlements and Buddhist Monasteries all with the stunning backdrop of the Himalayan Mountains. After a hard days trekking, the cold nights were spent in two man tents nights, and at the highest point, spent two nights at 3,000m at -5 degrees at Triund camp set on an alpine meadow. One morning, after the best thunder and lightning storm one could hope to experience, they were greeted by a thick layer of snow. The child in everyone soon came out!
Upon their return to Dharmsala, signifying the end of the trek, a couple of the trekkers then made an impromptu trip to the local infant school to give a small gift, their way of giving back to a community that welcomed them so warmly… and teach them ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes!’ After another long eight hour journey, the end of the challenge was celebrated with a visit to the magical Taj Mahal.
For each member of the team, the trek has been a personal and life changing journey which has brought with it new experiences and friendships in a truly united effort for Cancer Care at the RUH.
Katrina Bride, one member of the team from Melksham, explains her personal journey:
“This has been a most fulfilling experience. Pulling out all the stops you have (plus some you never knew you had) to raise money for a life-saving and life-enhancing service has been exhilarating. It’s a win-win situation. On one side of the winning coin is the personal achievement. I have enjoyed the creative opportunities presented by fundraising and the social side of involving my friends. I have enjoyed the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual challenges of the trek and particularly the sense of achievement at having completed it. I have also enjoyed the camaraderie of being part of a team which pulled together – all ages and levels of ability, we encouraged, cajoled and teased each other through it. The flip side of the winning coin is that the RUH gets that little bit nearer to building its much-needed cancer centre.”
The RUH Cancer Care Campaign is raising £8.5 million towards a pioneering Cancer Centre at The Royal United Hospital in Bath. This new Centre will transform the care for patients and their families affected by this life changing diagnosis. The hospital is planning on replacing its outdated 1940s cancer facilities, with a world class new Centre that is truly fit for purpose that will bring treatment ‘under one roof’. To date the campaign has raised £6.9 million and its with the support of the public and incredible fundraisers like the India trekkers, that will help raise the final £1.6 million.
Laura Pearce, Events Fundraiser for the Appeal comments: “We are so proud of all our India trekkers for completing this challenge…they really are a truly inspirational group of people. In the many months leading up to departure, each trekker worked extremely hard to raise vital funds for RUH patients. From cake sales, dance evenings, cream tea afternoons to fancy dress half marathons and a very apt Indian elephant naming game, the trek had already led the group to some amazing fundraising achievements before they even set foot in India! They’ve created memories and friendships that will last a lifetime, with the knowledge that with every step taken had been one step closer to a pioneering Cancer Centre at the RUH. Thank you so much for all your hard work and dedication and to all those who supported and donated along the way. What a journey!”
With the success of the India Trek, the Forever Friends Appeal are now looking for another group of adventurous fundraisers to take part in Trek Cambodia 2016 – a 95km trek to the top of the sacred Kulen Mountain and to explore the jewel in Cambodia’s crown, Angkor Wat. An Information Evening will be held at the Hospital on Thursday 28th January with talks from the Global Adventure Challenge trek leader, the fundraising team, plus a tour of the current Oncology facilities and you’ll get a chance to hear from the India trekkers about some of their expiences. To book your place or to find out more, please visit or Cambodia Trek page or give Laura a call on 01225 821535.