NINE friends, including two former Berkhamsted School pupils, have raised nearly £5k for a hospice charity after scaling ten of England’s highest mountains in less than half a day.
Paul Griffiths, 42, and eight school and university chums completed the 26km Lake District 10-Peak Challenge in memory of Paul’s father, Peter.
Luke Silverton & Paul Griffiths pictured above in the middle of their 10 Peak Challenge
The 65-year-old retired finance director from The Laurels, Potten End, lost a very sudden and short battle with cancer last August and Paul wanted to do something fitting to remember him and support The Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted, which cared for his dad during the last week of his life.
“The Lakes were Dad’s favourite place and ever since I was a child, our families have holidayed there,” explained Paul. “Going back and doing something Dad loved to help the Hospice provide the amazing - and very costly - care it gave us to other families, seemed very apposite.
Paul Griffiths & his dad Peter, who died at the Hospice in the Summer of 2014, walking in the Lakes
“Its wonderful doctors, nurses and staff did an incredible job of caring for Dad, giving him the highest levels of medical care and doing it in such a way that Dad received all the respect, dignity and love he deserved when he needed it most.
“They looked after all of us when we were still coming to terms with what was happening so quickly and cruelly and they did it in such a wonderful way that even when we thought it was unbearable, it wasn’t. I’m not sure what we would have done without them. I’m not easily impressed but the Hospice is a truly wonderful organization.”
The Hospice provides care for patients across Herts and Bucks facing life-limiting illness as well as support for their families and carers. It relies on voluntary donations for 80% of its £4.8m annual running costs and support from people like Paul is vital.
The Marketing Services Consultant and dad-of-two spent four months preparing for the gruelling physical challenge, which he did with fellow former Berkhamsted School pupil Luke Silverton, 43 from Kings Close, Chipperfield.
“We all signed up because we thought if Paul can do it, we certainly can,” said IT Project Manager and chair of St Paul’s C of E Primary School PTA Luke, who is used to doing triathalons, half iron mans and marathons, “but we were all surprised at how hard it was!”
Paul joined a gym, lifted weights and did long training walks with a fully loaded backpack so that he was prepared to carry the four litres of water and other provisions and equipment he’d need to get round.
Scaling the equivalent of more than 7,000 feet over dramatic rocky crags, across open moorland and through high-fell bogs on Saturday 27th June, the lads conquered Red Pike, High Stile, High Crag, Haystacks, Green Gable, Great Gable, Scafell Pike, Great End, Esk Pike and Bowfell in an impressive 11 hours, 15 minutes. Their anticipated time was 12-14 hours.
“It was definitely one of the toughest things I’ve ever done physically and by the end I was running on empty but it felt like an amazing achievement,” adds Paul.
“Every time my knees hurt, the thought of Dad, what he went through and the money I was raising for the Hospice kept me going.
“Of course Dad would have had a good old laugh at my pain and discomfort over every one of the 26km we walked and I’m sure that when I asked my friends to join me they only said yes because they didn’t think I’d actually do it.
“But I want to thank each and every one of them for putting up with me complaining all the way round and I hope it’ll teach them to take me at my word in the future!”
If you’d like to sponsor Paul visit his Just Giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/Paul-Griffiths-10-Peak-Challenge/ or if you’d like to raise funds for the Hospice through a challenge of your own, call 01442 869555 or email email@example.com .