Tuesday, 17 January 2012

I've finally reached my £10K fundraising target!

Yes, I'm really pleased to say that I hit my £10K fundraising target on Sunday. I did a talk and slideshow to a Quaker group in Harrogate and they showed their support with a very generous collection for Women for Women International. Glyn and I went to Bettys afterwards and celebrated with a hot chocolate!

I've still got a talk to do in June and there may be a few more talks in the future that have not yet been confirmed. It's great to be able to continue raising awareness about the amazing work that Women for Women International does, and it's such a pleasure being able to show the wonderful photos from the trek. Another bonus of course is that it's helping me overcome my fear of public speaking!  

I can't say thank you enough to everyone who's supported me. It's been a real team effort - you'll see how large the team has been if you look at the Thank You page on this blog. Although there are many more people - too many to mention - who have donated money, attended events, helped with the organisation of events, given advice, contacts and much-needed moral support.

It's also really great to be able to report that the Everest trek team has reached it's target of  £100,000! This is going to be used to fund 3 WFWI projects in Kosovo, Nigeria and Rwanda. The project in Kosovo is a new Women’s Opportunity Centre which will help women graduates from the charity’s one-year training programme to access new job and business opportunities. In Nigeria, the money will help equip women with knowledge about their rights, the confidence to act as advocates and the skills to be able to earn an income. In Rwanda, the money will help train women to set up businesses in agriculture, animal husbandry, tailoring, jewellery or hairdressing. They will double their incomes and this means being able to send their children to school and the opportunity to employ others in their communities.

I'm so glad I signed up for this challenge. I'm not an adventurous person and don't often take risks so both the trek itself and the fundraising pushed me way outside my comfort zone. But it's been a fantastic experience for me personally and I'm gradually realising how much I've gained from it.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Rossett School's Sponsored CrossFit WOD

Rossett School's Year 8 didn't know really what they were in for when they bravely trooped into their Sports Hall on Wednesday 7th December for their sponsored CrossFit WOD (work-out for the day) in aid of Women for Women International.

As I've said in previous posts, CrossFit focusses on strength, endurance and high intensity exercise and was a crucial part of my training for the Everest Trek. So when Rob Beever, the Head of Year 8 at Rossett, invited me to talk to the year group about my trek and fundraising and suggested the pupils might like to raise money through a sponsored challenge, I immediately asked my coaches Andy and Pete from CrossFit HG3 in Pannal (http://crossfithg3.com) if they could help. And they immediately said yes!

One of the great things about CrossFit is that it's totally scalable so that whatever a person’s age and level of fitness they get a great workout and great results.  It’s also brilliant for children and teenagers and the gym in Pannal already runs a thriving CrossFit Kids club.

Together with 7 of their CrossFit fanatic members, who very generously gave up their time to help, Andy and Pete managed to get nearly 200 12 and 13 year-old pupils through a really tough work-out. They did an 8 minute amrap of 8 squats, 8 sit-ups and 8 burpees. That means continuously doing those 3 exercises for 8 minutes, which is no mean feat.

All the pupils who took part received a Certificate of Achievement after their workout. They are now in the process of collecting their sponsorship money.

One of the teachers couldn't resist changing into his gym kit and having a go - he's the one saluting and looking a bit pink on the far left in this photo. Well done Mr West!

I'm so grateful to everyone who was involved in this - the pupils, the teachers, the CrossFit HG3 guys. It was a brilliant fun way to raise awareness about the work of Women for Women International and raise money too. Also, a special thank you to my friend, Chris Butler, a Teaching Assistant at Rossett, without whom this might never have happened.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Everest Trek Slideshow

I've at last managed to put a slideshow of photos taken on my trek onto this blog (with a lot of help from my sister - Nicola. Thank you Nic!). It's on the right-hand side under 'About me'.

Also, thank you to my fellow trekkers - some of the best photos were taken by them. 


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Talks and Fundraising Success in Local Schools

Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to be invited to do a talk to Years 10 and 11 at Leeds Grammar School about my trek and fundraising for Women for Women International.

To be honest I generally feel I'd rather eat my right arm than talk to large groups of people. I can't project my voice far at all and I rely on lots of notes in case I lose my train of thought and my ability to find the right words. So it was no surprise when I had an anxiety dream the night before about getting stuck in the toilet and arriving back at the hall a couple of minutes late to find everyone had gone!

Thankfully my dream did not come true. I was warmly welcomed and given lots of help to set up my powerpoint presentation, and also a microphone - yeah! And the talk went really well.

Even better still, the students had a collection the following day and raised a fantastic £388.96 for Women for Women International. And even better than that - the amount has been doubled as the school paid the money in to the Big Give  - a website that is open for one week only which enables donations to be doubled!

Thank you so much to all the teachers and pupils at Leeds Grammar School who dug deep in their pockets.

With their generosity and all the tremendous support and generosity I've had from a number of other people recently I'm up to just over £9,370 and within spitting distance of my £10K fundraising target!

Watch this space...... I'm waiting for photos from Rossett School in Harrogate before I post details about the amazing sponsored Crossfit challenge that nearly 200 Year 8 pupils completed today to raise money for Women for Women International.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Everest Base Camp Photos

Here I am in a triumphant stance at the rock marking Everest Base Camp. Yes I really did it!

Our aim in trekking to Everest Base Camp has been about more than just raising funds for Women for Women International. We wanted to raise awareness of the need for real investment in women in order to bring about sustainable peace and development in countries affected by conflict. In taking on the challenge of getting to Everest Base Camp we wanted to connect with the women in these countries who are facing their own much greater challenges, to show how we are connected despite our differences and how we can support each other to bring about a more peaceful and equitable world for everyone.
The team attaching the flags at Everest Base Camp

So we brought with us on the trek a chain of prayer flags bearing messages from women all over the world; women from different backgrounds and walks of life but with a united voice. Some of the flags were made by the participants in Women for Women’s programmes, displaying their visions of a peaceful and prosperous future. Others showed messages of support, solidarity and hope from Women for Women’s supporters from the UK, the USA and around the world. We attached these to the prayer flags already left at Everest Base Camp and have left them there for everyone who comes to see.


This flag will be taken to the summit and then auctioned to raise money for WFWI
In April 2012 a great supporter of WFWI - Chris Jackson - will be climbing to the summit of Everest and will be taking with him a flag that all of us in the Everest Trek team have signed. This will then be returned to the UK and auctioned to raise more money.

Here are some more photos showing some of the amazing scenery on our route to Base Camp, me with Sue (the trek leader), and our fantastic group of Sherpas who helped us every step of the way.

Friday, 21 October 2011

I'm back! I did it! We all did it!

I got home late last night after more or less 24 hours' travelling and my very dirty washing is whirring round in the machine as I type this. The process of getting back to normal has truly begun.

It's really strange but my amazing Everest adventure already feels so distant. We did our last long hike - a 6-7 hour one culminating in a seemingly never-ending upward climb - on Monday, before flying back to Kathmandu on Tuesday for some much-desired rest and relaxtion. And it's exactly a week ago that I stood with all the women in our team at Everest Base Camp and we hugged and laughed together and celebrated reaching our goal.

Don't feel able to make much sense now as my body clock is all skew-whiff but I promise to say lots more very soon about the whole experience. Just wanted to let people know as soon as I could that I'm back safe and very happy to have done what I set out to do. I took loads of photos and will sort though them within the next few days and put some of the best ones onto this blog.

I've had a brilliant couple of weeks in Nepal and am so glad I took a risk and said yes to this challenge. But I must say it's great to be home with Glyn and Gingie again and sleeping in my own bed last night was just wonderful! In fact it was so good that I think I should let the washing take care of itself and head upstairs for a nap....

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

I'm off!

Well - today's the day! It's been exactly six months since I signed up for this amazing adventure and I'm about to set off for Manchester Airport. I arrive in Kathmandu at 13.45 tomorrow.

This is me with my huge kit bag, rucksack and Gingie lookalike mascot all ready to go.

I've had a few days of veering between panic and excitement. I was up at midnight on Saturday trying to change the first leg of my flight (from Manchester to Heathrow) because the time is quite tight to get across from Terminal 1 to 4 to catch my connecting flight to Delhi. Anyway it turned out to be incredibly expensive so I'm just going to sprint for it!

There's also been a lot of packing, unpacking and re-packing, as it's been hard to fit everything in. It's mainly equipment; I don't seem to have many clothes and I've only 3 pairs of shoes including my boots - honestly!

You'll be glad to know I've practised with my shee-wee and pee bottle and I'm proud to report that the last few attempts were trickle-free. This skill will come in handy in the middle of the night at -24 degrees when I can't face going outside for a pee!

Looking back over the last 6 months of fundraising and training, although I've had some worries from time to time, it's been a great experience. I've had a lot of fun and I've learnt a tremendous amount.  I'm up to £7,325 now which feels really good. There's no way I could have got to this point without the support of my family and friends and so many other people who have been generous with their time and money.

So far the trek team has raised just over £74,000! Which we're all very pleased about. When we get back there'll be lots of opportunities hopefully to talk to groups about our adventure and inspire more people to help us reach our 100,000 target.

I'll try to post on this blog while I'm on the trek but it might be difficult as only our trek leader, Sue, will have a laptop with her and the internet cafes are very expensive. I'll be keeping a diary which I will type up when I return. Sue will be blogging when she can and you can read what we're up to by going to her website - www.susanharpertodd.com

And finally.... do have a look online at the hotel where we'll be staying on Wednesday night and for two glorious nights after the trek is over. It's the Yak and Yeti Hotel - http://www.yakandyeti.com/ We set off on Thursday for Everest and the not quite so luxurious facilities along the way and I might have to be dragged off kicking and screaming!