31 July 2012

Natalie Gilliland, PA to the CEO here at YMCA Black Country Group has just completed the 3 peaks challenge in aid of YMCA Black Country Group. There were plenty of ups and downs and lots of money raised to support our residents. Natalie was kind enough to share her experience with us.

“I was picked up from home on Friday at 6am and we made our way to Birmingham Airport. From there, we took a very turbulent journey to Glasgow where we met up with the lad’s and took ANOTHER minibus ride to Fort William; we had a quick stop at Ben Nevis to have a look at our starting point, which made the whole thing quite real.

“We got to our base at Bencoe Hostel, where the group leader Dave, talked to us about safety and how to pack our rucksacks; he also informed us that if the river crossing at Scaffell Pike was above knee height, then our challenge was over…eek! We headed to the pub for a meal and watched the first part of the England match, then made our way to bed ready for the next few days.

“After a rough night’s sleep we were up at 5am, had some breakfast, checked that we had all that we needed in our rucksacks and headed out to Ben Nevis! We started our longest climb at 7am which was very slippery at the bottom. We met some men who had started out at 6am who were also doing the 3 peaks challenge for a charity for terminally ill children. When we got to to the top, we were greeted with snow and a sheer drop to our left, good job I knew my left from my right!

“Eventually we got to the summit to find a man eating cold soup and singing happy birthday… as you do. Dave told us there would be sections on each decent where we would have to run, to make up for lost time, so we all held hands and ran through the snow which was fantastic fun! Towards the bottom I kept slipping over and was told that if I kept my feet completely flat on the boulders it would help me stop falling over… it didn’t work!

“4 hours and 26 minutes later we arrived back at the minibus.  A quick change and off the next mountain.  Dave told us we were at least 30 minutes behind schedule!  It would take us 6 hours to get to the next destination, so our driver put his foot down (limited to 64MPH of course!) One peak down, two to go!

“Scafell Pike was a hard vertical climb from the outset, fortunately the river was low enough for us to cross. We met a group on the way to the top who through they were at the summit, until Dave informed them there was still a way to go… gutted! We made our way back down, running again and completed Scafell Pike in 3 hours and 10 minutes. Pleased that my body was still cooperating – not bad for 41 eh?! We set off for Snowdon which would be a 4 hour journey.

“We arrived at Snowdon at 2.20am in the pitch black, armed with head torches we made our way up. The climb at the bottom wasn’t so bad but when we went under the railway bridge it hit us, my legs didn’t want to do anymore; i was taking 10 paces then stopping, a long journey ahead. A few hundred paces later we arrived at the top of Snowdon, which was a bit grim! Tottled on down and reached the bottom at 5.20am.

“All done, we managed to complete the challenge in 22 hours and 40 minutes! The climb was a fantastic experience, and made all the hard training totally worthwhile. I was part of a great team who kept each other focussed on the reason for doing the climb – to raise money for good causes. I was raising money for the YMCA Moving On Fund.

“I’ve met many residents who have moved into the YMCA with only the clothes they were standing up in. During their stay at the YMCA, they have turned their lives around, and have moved on to more independent accommodation.

“The YMCA Moving On Fund helps them set up with the
furniture and equipment they needed to stand on their own two feet. Many of us have friends and family who are able to help with essential items when moving out of our parents’ home. The young people we support often don’t have the same opportunities.

“Thank you to everyone who supported me, I have managed to raise over £600  for the young people at the YMCA and I couldn’t have done that without your help!

 For more information about supporting the YMCA through your own sponsored activities and events, contact Steve Bavington on 0121 524 1950.