Friends complete SAS-style test for St Catherine’s Hospice
Five friends braved freezing conditions to complete a tough mountain trek in aid of St Catherine’s Hospice.
Darren Wildman, Craig Fielding, Carl Butler, James McDuff and Paul Grundy took on the 14-mile challenge over Pen Y Fan – the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The pals from Preston covered the distance all whilst carrying 35lbs on their backs, in the style of an SAS selection process called the Fan Dance.
In total they raised an amazing £2,181.
The funds raised will help St Catherine’s Hospice continue to provide specialised palliative and end of life care to people in the local community who are living with conditions which can be treated but not cured.
Darren, a tattooist, said: “A few of us had spotted the Fan Dance and decided that if we were to do something worthwhile, we were going to do what was one of the hardest challenges to complete.
“The SAS selection route seemed an obvious choice although there were times in training where we had serious doubts.”
Darren, who holds the hospice at Lostock Hall close to his heart, added: “My son’s aunty was treated at the hospice, as was my uncle, before both losing very brave battles with cancer.
“The staff and the care both received, as well as the families being supported by St Catherine’s, left a massive mark on myself and the rest of the lads.
“All of us have experienced loved ones needing care so we all agreed that locally St Catherine’s was to be the chosen beneficiary.”
The group of friends battled extreme conditions during the trek, including temperatures which had dropped to minus 25 degrees.
Darren said: “The challenge was extremely hard both physically and mentally, visibility was down to around 20ft so the entire walk became a slog as we were unable to see any goals.
“We came across the actual RV points by following those in front of us and listening to the voices and whistles of the directing staff.
“The snow was heavy, even in the well-trodden paths it sat at 12 inches and in the drifts it was over three feet.
“The hardest part was the climb back to the Pen Y Fan – visibility was dropping, as was the light, as we reached the summit in even worse conditions for the second time.”
The fivesome completed the gruelling event in just less than seven hours and were greeted at the finish line by their partners.
Darren added: “Most of our clothes had an inch of ice on, our hats were frozen to our hair and gloves had to be helped off by our partners.
“We had all fallen numerous times collecting sore ribs and hips along the way.
“We’re all glad that we were able to support St Catherine’s because they carry out amazing work and words don’t adequately do justice to everyone who is associated with the hospice’s efforts.”
There’s still time to sponsor the group, visit www.justgiving.com/fandance1 or call into BodyMods Tattoo Studio, 451 Blackpool Rd, Ashton, Preston.
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