This is a long post today but then again it was a very long (but rewarding) day!!
Two weeks ago today, a group of us (6 adults and 7 children) were ‘strolling’ up to the summit of Snowdon. The word strolling is tongue in cheek because none of us appreciated just how hard it would be – struggling would have been a more appropriate word. But the thought of getting to the top, for the amount of money we were raising for charity, spurred us all on (final total revealed at the end of this blog to make you read on haha)! So did the friendship, encouragement and laughs along the way too!
We decided to take the Llanberis path as the youngest ones in our group were two amazing 7-year-old boys and we were told this was the easiest path. I’m not sure the word ‘easiest’ should ever be used in this post either! We had decided to call ourselves Mad Hatters because of the nature of our charity event and the theme of our original idea. Jill Jaeger, who has been crocheting many things for The Shannon Bradshaw Trust, made us some hats for our walk which were the colours of the rainbow. The rainbow is significant for many reasons. We were trying to find that pot of gold for the charity at the end of it but also because ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ was one of my mum and dad’s favourite songs. It was played at my mum’s funeral last year and in case you haven’t guessed by now, it is in her memory that we are raising as much money as we can for The Shannon Bradshaw Trust/Community Centre.
We were staying at my sister’s caravan in Llanberis so the drive to the start of the path only took us 10 minutes. However, we underestimated how long it would take to get a group of very excited children ready for a day out on the mountain! Loaded up with water, snacks and lunch, we set off on the path at 10.30am. It has to be said that the first part of the path was fairly steep and 10 minutes in, some of us were wondering how on earth we would ever make it to the top. But the friendship, encouragement and laughter were paramount!
The half way cafe was welcome relief for a short rest and a hot cup of coffee. Alex (my niece) who is the brainchild behind the fundraising extravaganza, started with a nosebleed. It was at this point that I started to realise just how high this mountain actually was and I was worried about her. However, her response to me was to tell me off for fussing and in her words ‘I will get to the top of this mountain Jo Jo, I’m doing this for my nana Mary!’ The half way cafe was always going to be the place where we assessed how the younger two boys were doing, Ben (my nephew) and Michael (my best friend’s son). The train was fully booked so we knew there was no chance of getting to the top and coming down on that, so it was going to be walking all the way and they’re both only 7. And while they were finding it tough, there was to be a character we met at this halfway cafe that would spur them on to the top! Liam Hewer, Author of Children’s Books “The Woody Wilds”, was dressed as one of his characters Shelby Snail; he was raising money for Cystic Fibrosis, www.justgiving.com/shelbysnail/. As soon as Michael saw that Shelby Snail was climbing Snowdon, it spurred him on and there was no stopping any of us now!
For anyone who has ever climbed Snowdon, you will know that you meet all weathers along the way and our layers were constantly on and off. As we passed underneath a bridge, close to the top, we stopped for a group photo – we weren’t sure we’d get one at the top as it’s a small space and it was busy. So here is the group of Mad Hatters!
It was from this point on that the walk got colder and much harder. The group began to separate, as we were all going at our own pace. I had Ben with me and at one point he stopped and said ‘Jo Jo, I don’t think I can do this! My legs are so tired and I’m so cold!’ I said ‘It’s ok, we’ll stop for minute’ I layered him up and then all of a sudden the sun came out. I told him that was nana Mary lighting the way for us. At which point, he looked up and saw a seagull, which appeared to be flying along the path ahead of us. Ben then jumped up and excitedly said ‘Jo Jo, that seagull was at the halfway cafe! It is nana Mary, she’s showing us the way!’ He bounced up and down and exclaimed ‘I’ve got new energy in my legs! Let’s go!’ I’m not sure my mum would have been pleased about being called a seagull, but this emotional moment definitely gave us both the energy to carry on! The other Mad Hatters all had their own struggles at different points of the walk but again the togetherness of the different breakout groups and their support of each other pushed them on.
Shortly after passing the stone which would indicate we were nearly there, it got a whole lot windier and scary! The path to the summit looked narrow and dangerous, especially with the wind and younger people. At this point I asked if he wanted to go on up to the summit. He squeezed my hand tight and said ‘Of course! I’m doing this for nana Mary! Come on Jo Jo’ He reminded me so much of my dad at this point, so loving and supportive of me – and I was the adult!
At exactly, 1.42pm, we reached the summit. The first of the Mad Hatters up there were Lucy and Beth (daughters of my very good friends, Jane and Joanna, from work). They both hugged Ben and I, and I cried! When Jane made it up, we hugged and there were more tears. I share an office with Jane and for this past year she has been amazing support for me on a daily basis (as has everyone from my Oaky family). Joanna, determined as ever, climbed up and a few of us squeezed in for a photo with the banner I’d carried up. ‘Mad Hatters Made it. We climbed Snowdon, in Mary’s Memory for The Shannon Bradshaw Trust.’
After a short stop in the cafe at the summit, we began the journey down. None of us had expected that to be as hard as it was but we made it back down in a couple of hours. It was safe to say that night we all slept soundly.
Every single person who took part in this climb, myself, my niece and nephew Alex (10) and Ben (7), Antonia and her two children Ella (9) and Michael (7), Mags and her son Patrick (9), Jane and her daughter Lucy (13), Joanna and her daughter Beth (12) and not forgetting Steve, our friend, achieved an amazing thing on Saturday May 16th. Not only did we overcome personal fears and difficulties but we also raised an amazing amount of money for The Shannon Bradshaw Trust, with the very latest total being £2287.78. I know we would have made my mum very proud! Thank you so much to Antonia, Mags, Jane, Joanna and Steve, for your support, love and friendship! And your children, Claire, Antonia, Mags, Jane and Joanna, were an absolute credit to you all!
It’s onwards and upwards to my next fundraising event, Make a Difference Week at Oakwood Avenue Primary. This event is set to take place week beginning 8th June, and is raising money for other charities as well as the Shannon Bradshaw Trust. However, this week will focus on our children also taking part in charitable acts and thinking of others through acts of kindness and thoughtfulness.