Intrepid hospice nurse completes Everest challenge raising over £2,500

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Date published: Friday 31st May 2019 | 16:43 GMT

One of our volunteer nurses has just completed a daring trek to Island Peak (at 6,189 metres) in the Everest Region, raising more than £2,500 vital funding for the charity, with gift aid included (£2,150 in direct donations).

Val Bennett (age 54, standing at 4ft 10.5in) has been volunteering on St Clare’s Inpatient Unit as a nursing assistant since April 2018. The dedicated nursing volunteer has celebrated her first year anniversary in style, at the top of a mountain!

On 1st May Val departed from the UK for the adventure of a lifetime – trekking in the Everest mountain range in the Himalayas, all in order to raise vital funding for the West Essex and East Herts hospice. Val completed the challenge on Thursday 16th May, when she reached the summit of Island Peak.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have finished this challenge in aid of St Clare, having raised £2,500 so far! I never realised how hard it would be, but the scenery was amazing. I climbed to Everest Base Camp (5,365m), then Kala Pathar (5,550m), and then onto the summit of Island Peak (6,189m). I am so chuffed and overjoyed to have reached my goal! Even through the altitude sickness, it was all worth it to be able to raise such a great amount for St Clare.”

Val’s sponsored fundraising challenge to Everest’s Island Peak in the Khumbu Valley is not for the faint-hearted. The adventure entailed a 23-day trip to Nepal, during which Val was challenged by rocky out-crops, broken glaciers sporting huge crevasses, a steep 200m headwall and finally a knife-sharp ridge that brought her to the summit of Island Peak at 6,189m above sea level.

Val said: “The magnitude of the challenge was far greater than I had anticipated and I can’t believe I did it! It was physically exhausting; you are constantly out of breath, just tying your bootlaces up takes your breath away! The day we set off for the summit we set off at 1am and arrived back at 5.30pm the following day.

“I lost my appetite after about five days and I knew my body needed the food to fuel it, so meal times took forever as I had to practically force-feed myself.

“I also had to drink five litres of water each day. I was only effected by altitude sickness for one day, which was a new experience, you can’t sleep, you can’t focus, everything hurts, even your eyes, but thankfully it passed and never returned.

“Added to that, Island Peak has become a more technical climb in the past two years, as part of the head wall collapsed making it harder to get to the ridge as the head wall is a 300 metre vertical climb.”

Val was inspired to take on this intrepid trek by her experiences as a volunteer for St Clare Hospice. “Through my volunteering role at the Hospice, I see first-hand the difference that our care and support makes to local families,” Val explains.

“It’s such a privilege to help St Clare deliver their care to people who need it, completely free of charge. However, I understand the costs involved to be able to do this – that’s why I’m took on this challenge; to help raise the vital funding that enables us to do what we do here at St Clare.”

Val first started volunteering at St Clare in April 2018, having retired from running her own business. “I had extra time to spare and felt I could offer love, care and support to the patients and their families,” says Val. “I wanted to do something meaningful, I knew it would make me happy to offer something back to society and try to make a little difference – and by helping others in the local community. Volunteering at the Hospice seemed like the perfect fit.”

If you’d like to congratulate Val on her incredible achievement, and boost her sponsorship fundraising, please visit: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ValBennett

Emma Broadbent

For more information on challenges you can take on in aid of St Clare visit our Challenges pages or get in touch with our Challenge Events Fundraiser Emma Broadbent on 01279 773754 or email emma.broadbent@stclarehospice.org.uk 

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