Patrons: Bill Beaumont, Mark Lawrenson & Tisha Merry Reg Charity No: 512186

Dalai Lama Trek: Celia’s mission to take on epic challenge aged 71

A team of intrepid trekkers are set to embark on an adventure of a lifetime in India, as they take on our very first overseas charity challenge! A group of 23 supporters are taking on the iconic Dalai Lama Trek this month – a fantastic five-day hike through the foothills of the Himalayas.

Retired teacher and grandma-of-three Celia McDonnell , age 71 from Penwortham, is taking on the once-in-a-lifetime challenge with her friend, and has relished fundraising and training for the trip this year.

My friend Gill Hallam, who I sing with in the One Voice Community Choir, encouraged me to join her on the Dalai Lama Trek when she first heard about it in January. After doing some research and asking advice from a few people, with trepidation I decided to apply. 

I’ve always been a friend of St Catherine’s as my best friend had been nursed and spent her last days there.  They made her so comfortable and even allowed us to have her granddaughter Christened in the chapel, followed by a party, a couple of days before she died.  I also think that I’m pretty old, but go to the gym regularly, so if there’s an opportunity to do something I’d better take it and lastly I’d been to India before and loved it.

It also seemed totally daunting to raise so much money to take on the challenge, but I thought I’d better give it a go. I have lots of really good friends so thought that I could ask them to have coffee mornings, garden parties etc and their friends could make donations. 

I helped at all events and often gave a little talk about why I was raising money.  Fortunately we have had such a brilliant summer that virtually every event was held in brilliant sunshine.  We’ve all had a really good time and raised so much money.   

Gill and I started having regular long walks mainly on the Guild Wheel which we were really enjoying.  I also did the hospice’s 10-mile Moonlight and Memories Walk.  And after a meeting we had with everyone taking part in the Dalai Lama Trek, some of us decided that a Tuesday night walk would be fun, would enable us to get to know each other and improve our fitness.  That worked really well and we even started going up some hills which I’m not too good at!

It’s getting close now and I’m trying to up the training a little. Obviously I’m anxious about whether I’ll be able to manage the terrain, I’m scared that I might get injured and hold everyone up, but equally I’m excited about taking on such a difficult challenge and about visiting a part of India that I haven’t visited before.  The group of people that I’ve already got to know are all kind, helpful and fun so I feel sure it will be amazing.

To follow the Dalai Lama Trek team’s progress throughout their journey, follow us on social media @stcatherinespre – and if you’d like to support the group, you can leave good luck messages and sponsor them here.

We’re working with Global Adventure Challenges to host this exciting trip and places are now full, but please email to let us know if you’re interested in hearing about any future exciting overseas challenges with St Catherine’s.