St Catherine’s Hospice’s medical director is swapping his stethoscope for hiking boots, as he prepares to embark on an epic journey along the Great Wall of China to raise funds for the charity.
Dr Andrew Fletcher is joining the hospice’s gruelling overseas challenge this October, when he will trek back-to-back for five days along with fellow supporters.
“As well as caring for patients, working at the hospice makes you really want to get behind the charity on a more personal level and support the fundraising efforts too,” he said. “It’s becoming ever more important for us to generate the funds needed to continue offering our specialist care to people with life-shortening illnesses, and this seems like a fairly small thing to do to help.”
Dr Fletcher, who has overall medical responsibility for the clinical care and support of patients at St Catherine’s, has taken part in other sponsored events for the hospice in recent years, including the charity’s annual Santa Dash fun run and daring firewalk.
“I like to get involved and try new things to support the hospice,” he said. “I’d never really thought about doing an overseas challenge until I heard how amazing last year’s was – the supporters who hiked the Dalai Lama Trek in India for St Catherine’s said it was such an incredible experience, and the camaraderie was really evident.
“The Great Wall of China Trek sounds just as exciting, and I think it’s a great opportunity to see a new part of the world whilst raising much-needed funds for the important work of St Catherine’s. It will be the adventure of a lifetime.”
Dr Fletcher will be joined by his husband, Andrew Wilson-Fletcher, and says they are both looking forward to the challenge.
“We like traveling and we enjoy exploring cities and being quite active on our holidays,” he said. “We’ve visited quite a few places in Europe and America but we’ve never been to Asia and we’ve never done anything on this scale before.
“We haven’t actually got hiking boots yet, but we’re planning to start training soon to prepare for the challenge ahead!”
The Lostock Hall hospice has teamed up with Global Adventure Challenges for the trek, which involves hiking 36km and conquering 1,000 steps up to the wall at Mutianyu.
A team of 40 St Catherine’s supporters will fly to Beijing before embarking on the five-day hike in October, and will explore Beijing’s famous sites at the end of the trek, including the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Tiananmen Square.
Hayley Jackson, community engagement officer for St Catherine’s Hospice, said: “Our first overseas challenge to India was so popular and successful; our supporters had a once-in-a-lifetime experience and came back with some fantastic memories and stories, all whilst raising vital funds for St Catherine’s Hospice.
“This year’s #TeamStCatherine’s is gearing up for an amazing adventure to China, and we’re incredibly grateful for their commitment to the challenge.
“It costs a staggering £5.6m to run the charity each year, of which we have to generate £3.8m to continue providing specialist palliative and end-of-life care to local people at the hospice and in people’s own homes. We’d like to thank everyone who has signed up for The Great Wall of China Trek for St Catherine’s, and wish them luck with their training and fundraising.”