Shepway Veterans, a group of men over 45 have just completed the challenge of a lifetime: climbing the 3 highest peaks in the UK, starting with Ben Nevis in Scotland, then onto Scafell Pike in England and finishing with Snowdon in North Wales raising awareness and funds for Tackle Prostate Cancer.
Back in August 2017 Alistair Hammond founder of Shepway Veterans lost his father-in-law, Graham to prostate cancer. This left a huge hole in his family’s life, but it also made his family so much more aware of the issues that face men and the very real need to do something to help and make a difference.
Alistair decided he wanted to help, so after talking to some close friends he hatched a plan to form a group of over 45-year-olds who all live in or around the Shepway area and “Shepway Veterans” was created. Made up of a group of seven men from all walks of life, but all have a connection with men’s cancers, loved ones lost and battling the disease and one of the team is a survivor.
Alistair Hammond from Folkestone, founder of Shepway Veterans said: “After my father in law was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer and sadly lost his fight in 2017, I formed a group of friends called the ‘Shepway Veterans’ who all have similar stories-one is a survivor-to do something to support the ongoing search for a cure for all cancers. We recognised Tackle Prostate Cancer as the perfect charitable partner to support because it helps dads, families and friends and is one of the smaller national charities that help raise awareness of men’s cancer, so everyone gets the help they need. The team are determined to raise as much money and raise awareness in the fight to save men’s lives.”
After a year of meticulous planning from training schedules, to kit and finally the accommodation and transport, it all came together seamlessly as The Shepway Veterans took on the 3 tallest Peaks in Scotland, England and Wales-“The Three Peaks”.
Alistair Hammond reflected on the challenge: “Journey north went without issue, although Kai left his iD (passport) on the plane, so a penalty sanction was owed for delaying our departure to Ben Nevis on the first day! Sleep came and went for us all as the nerves and realisation of the task ahead as the challenge was here…finally. Ben Nevis was first and although steep and never ending being the tallest at 1340m, it turned out to be the most straightforward. 36,590 steps got us up and down, one member took a fall on the descent but only damaged walking trousers thankfully and we completed the trek in just over 6 hours. The descent proving to be the most challenging.”
Five and a half hours later took The Shepway Veterans south to Cumbria and the beautiful Lake District. Scafell Pike is the shortest of the three, but by no means easiest. The route started fairly well, winding through a valley on sensible paths, then the climbing began up stones stuck into the landscape to provide a stepped approach.
Alistair Hammond commented: “We reached the Styhead Tarn and the ominous vision of the stretcher box faced us, thankfully Scafell Pike was shrouded in cloud as the threat of bad weather was on the cards. After a few twists and turns and a slight detour (the map route is slightly off), Kai announced that his knee (an old injury) was sore and unfortunately had to pull out of the remainder of the climb. Simon, gracefully offered to take Kai back to basecamp and the rest, Martin, Brian, Mark, Ade and I pushed on up. Two scrambling points on this particular route, which really challenged Mark, Ade and I as we were slightly terrified of heights and the climbs whilst short were high above a gully. With the support and expert tuition from both Martin and Brian, we made it up and onto the plateau where the climb to the summit faced us. The weather was closing in and we would be facing gusts of 50-60 mph, so no pit stops at the top (only a photo opportunity).
The trip down was slower than anticipated as the terrain was uneven and safe return was paramount. Exhausted with tired legs, the group drove the 4.5 hours to Llanberis, Wales, to meet Snowdon. Final day and the weather which had been kind all week, was unleashing all hell.
Alistair Hammond said: “It rained as soon as we exited the vehicle and shortly after we all put on full waterproofs. Snowdon was going to be tough. We chose the Miners route which was a gentle walk in with a steep climb to join the Pyg track. This proved tricky as the route wasn’t clear and required us to climb or scramble up and up for ages, this tested us all, as the wind was gusting at 60 mph. We were soaked and cold. The weather kicked in fully, but eventually we neared the summit only to be advised the wind was over 70 mph. We crawled for the photo on the summit as it was so difficult to stand comfortably, safety first. Grateful to have reached the top of the most challenging climb, we took shelter in the doorway of the closed café to wring out gloves/hats and get warm. We decided to descend via the Llanberis path, which was longer but safer given the conditions and the fatigue felt by all.
27,000 steps and the welcome sight of the vehicles and Kai, who couldn’t take part in the final climb due to his knee, were waiting for us. Relieved and extremely grateful for the support from the team we hugged, then headed back to the hotel for a shower before heading out for a meal and drinks.
Despite the disappointment of Kai injuring his knee, me injuring my thigh, we managed to pull together to complete tough climbs. The team really helped each other, and I couldn’t have done it without them. Thanks to all who donated and all who will donate. We are so thankful.”
Roger Wotton, Chairman of Tackle Prostate Cancer says: “We know how devastating the diagnosis of prostate cancer can be. By raising awareness and funds we will hopefully see more men being tested earlier, and help accelerate a reduction in mortality figures. Prostate cancer doesn’t just affect the man diagnosed – it affects his whole family. Shepway Veterans are a true inspiration to others and we are grateful for their support.“
The group has received fantastic support from local company LIFElabs.io (LIFElabs) a Fintech blockchain company who will provide a facility for donations to be accepted in digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and LIFEtoken. LIFElabs have agreed to help sponsor aspects of the challenge and will match fund donations received- up to £5,000. The LIFEtoken community have donated 13 million LIFEtoken.
LIFElabs’ CMO, David Pugh-Jones commented: “We are extremely proud to sponsor Alistair and the Shepway Veteran’s team, supporting them in raising funds for the inspirational Tackle Prostate charity. As a company that has philanthropy and pioneering technology at its heart, it was a perfect opportunity for us to match fund donations and help build awareness of Prostate Cancer.”
Read the full blog of the challenge of the challenge: www.shepwayveterans.org/blog/3-peaks-done