Tears, dancing and hugs for St Barnabas Inca trekkers

Kevin Kimber, Anne Porter, Liz Kane and Hayley McHenry

Kevin Kimber, Anne Porter, Liz Kane and Hayley McHenry

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A LIFE-changing trek across the ancient route of the Incas raised a staggering £119,000 for St Barnabas House hospice.

A 34-strong team of trekkers went to Peru for the charity challenge. They started their trek in Cusco, deep in the Andes Mountains.

Their journey took them along the Urubamba River, through the Kusichaca Valley, across Dead Woman’s Pass through stunning mountain scenery, with cloud forests, orchids, humming birds and the Huayanay glacier providing an impressive backdrop to their travels.

The expedition was not without its challenges. With more than 4,000 metres of ascent during the journey, many suffered with altitude sickness and tummy bugs. But the team were well looked after with five tour guides, including a doctor, and 58 porters during their trek. The accommodation was basic with the team camping in tiny tents for most of the journey, once on the edge of a cliff path.

Sloane Vaughan, community fund-raising manager for the hospice in Titnore Lane, said: “It really was a tough challenge. We got up at 5.30am every morning and walked until 6pm with much of the route involving climbing and traversing mountain passes. We had to contend with blazing sun and cold rain, too.

“But we had a fantastic group of people, all of whom helped each other to overcome the challenges of the trek. We celebrated a 50th birthday and sadly two of our trekkers had family bereavements while we were away. But when we reached Machu Picchu and caught our first glimpse of the ancient city ruins, it made everything worthwhile. We just hugged each other, cried and danced on the mountain side.”

The team’s original aim was to raise £56,000 – enough to pay for a whole month of care in an entire wing of the St Barnabas in-patient unit – but the total has been smashed thanks to lots of hard work and a number of innovative fund-raising activities such as all-you-can-eat restaurant nights, quizzes, sponsored walks and even ghost hunts.

Stephanie Smith, director of fund-raising for the hospice, said, “Congratulations and well done to everyone who took part and thank you to everyone who supported the trekkers. The money raised has paid for all of the hospice’s care services during the whole time they have been away on the challenge in Peru.”

Speaking of their incredible adventure, trekker Ben Elsden said: “I had the best time of my life on this trip and have met some truly remarkable people.” Anne Porter added: “I’ve never laughed and cried so much. A remarkable journey in all senses of the word.”